Imagine sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner with your family and friends. Your plate is piled high with perfectly cooked turkey, rich stuffing, potatoes and gravy, yams with a touch of cinnamon and ornately carved vegetables. You have several crystal glasses filled with fine wines. On a side table nearby, beautiful desserts are displayed—all for you.

The people seated next to you didn’t do quite as well. They are looking at a microwave turkey dinner—$3.99 from the grocery store—and a Coke. The rest of the table really missed out. Some have bread and water—contaminated. Some have nothing.

Could you enjoy a meal under these circumstances? Probably not. Yet, this is how we live with our global family.

This vignette is adapted from Arjuna Ardagh’s essay, “The Clock Is Ticking.” He describes how the problems our world is facing today (terrorism, the environmental crisis, political crises, the growing wealth gap) are all rooted in one common cause. They arise from our perception of “me” and “them” as separate, or from seeing “me” and “the planet” as separate.

When we feel cut off from others and from life, our relationship to the world is characterized by lack. People who feel lack tend to accumulate and hoard things at the expense of others.

In this issue, when asked, “What is true wealth?” no one mentioned accumulating or consuming resources. What emerged was an awareness that wealth comes from our meaningful connection and engagement with others. We feel wealthy when we take care of each other with the resources that flow through us. At some level, we have always known this.

If you asked my grandparents about wealth, they would tell you about their farm and their family of eleven children during World War II. While there was shortage and rationing in most of German-occupied Belgium, they felt fortunate to be able to feed not only their own children but also a Hungarian orphan they had adopted and a Jewish couple they hid for several months in the barn.

True wealth is not an amount of money but a state of wholeness and well-being. It comes from focusing on and being grateful for what we have and putting that to work, instead of believing that we need more before we can start living life to the fullest. Our longing for wealth can only be satisfied by recognizing that what feeds us has nothing to do with what we buy and everything to do with an aliveness of our soul. When we know this, we are truly wealthy.

Thanksgiving dinner with some feasting and others starving is unthinkable. Doing business while depleting human and natural resources is no longer the order of the day. Beyond non-profits and for-profits, let’s build not-only-for-profits and create “Global Prosperity through a Philanthropic Economy®.”

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is Cofounder and
Editor in Chief of
Networking Times.