OPINION

Time to share wealth

During these festive days, when we seem to suppress everyday stress and are overtaken by a strong urge to consume, it’s important that we look past our, more or less, well-off family circle and turn our attention to those who cannot afford the most basic of goods. The bright shop windows and streets packed with people carrying shopping bags are only one facet of our society. There’s also another one: Poverty and misery are among us and the only thing preventing us from seeing them is our own arrogant prosperity. And when we happen to come upon them, we feel the need to walk past, quickly banishing the negative image from our heads. All this could be the prologue to a call for greater generosity this year. We wouldn’t snub this traditional display of solidarity carried out by civic society. There’s nothing that we, as individuals, can do to fight the poverty and the misery that plagues the earth, yet each and every one of us can help alleviate the pain and give some pleasure to our needy fellow-man. What may seem insignificant to many of us can be of vital importance to these people. Offering is not just a way of helping; it’s simultaneously a way of receiving satisfaction and getting a taste of reality. It’s a way of restoring our psychological equilibrium, upset by the fabricated role models served by our consumer-oriented society. Charity initiatives are helpful in many ways but it would be hypocritical to limit oneself to them. In the age of globalization, it’s unacceptable to tolerate such blatant inequalities of wealth. Only a small minority of the world’s population actually enjoys the goods and services that we take for granted. This inconsistency has taken on dramatic dimensions and has already triggered a wave of illegal migration. Moreover, it infects rich societies with arrogance and self-interest. The high-income strata already show such an attitude toward the lower-income classes within developed societies themselves. Inequalities have deepened even in countries that have traditionally been proud of their welfare state. There is a move away from the mechanisms responsible for redistributing wealth and restoring social equilibrium, despite the fact that they have, for decades, sustained social stability and prosperity in Europe and elsewhere. Perhaps many of these mechanisms have been eclipsed. We should change them so that they become more effective. History demonstrates that arrogant men of demolition do nothing but unleash destructive forces.