Wealth Instead of Riches

In Joy to the City, I mentioned that Woburnite.com has a particular concept of wealth. That concept is my focus this time. We hope you will find it worthy of full consideration. We hope you will, as a result, begin to see and get excited about opportunities you hadn't noticed.

More than thirty years ago, I read this from Confucius:

There is a chief way for the production of wealth, namely, that the producers be many and that the mere consumers be few; that the artisan mass be energetic and the consumers temperate.

...and this from Buckminster Fuller:

Wealth is our organized capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives.

I remembered the first much better than the second, and didn't notice their alignment at all. Early this year I read Fuller's Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth again, with more experienced eyes. In Fuller's definition of wealth I found confirmation of my understanding of Confucius: wealth is something other than a large quantity of assets, privately owned. One alone (or in charge) cannot produce or possess wealth. Its production involves and benefits everyone, today and tomorrow.

If wealth is not a large quantity of assets, privately owned, what is the word for that? I suggest riches, a word/image many of us associate with kings and emperors, conquerors and pirates of old. Let's take care to say “So and so is rich,” instead of “So and so is wealthy.” Let's say a community or region is wealthy and not mean that its population has a high percentage of rich people. Let's mean that the area is productive, resilient, sustainable and vibrant in many respects. In short, a place that's whole.

Riches can be amassed by various means as a single entity's private assets. They are what most of us strive for within the competitive system that is dominant in our society. However, because of the competition and its complications, riches are neither available to all nor intrinsically secure. What's more, experience and research indicate that riches do not even guarantee well-being and sufficiency. They and the pursuit of them are naturally isolating and disintegrating. As stories from all times and places illustrate, riches represent a luxurious dead-end. In contrast, wealth is a product of complementary efforts of many and diverse entities. It is enjoyed as a common security. Wealth affords well-being and satisfaction, and, combining resilience with surpluses, approaches sustainability. If we strive for wealth instead of riches, we can obtain very different – in fact, very desirable – results!

As I got to know Fel Medeiros, he got to know these preoccupations of mine. They made some sense to him, and he found within himself initiative to found Woburnite.com and write the goal statement that includes the phrase local community wealth. Together we invite you to become a producer among producers in and around Woburn. Immediately you can serve, leading as a pathfinder and model.