Yesterday, a pilot had to crash land his helicopter on a farm in Mathaithi, near Karatina due to bad weather. The public did not react much to his lucky landing, but the fact that he was flying his kids to Banda School in Nairobi. Flying, not driving. Word is that this pilot, Allan Root, flies his kids from Lewa Downs conservancy in Laikipia County to Nairobi’s Banda School. Of further interest is the judgment and snide remarks in various media towards his flying kids to school, while most Kenyans walk kilometers, barefoot to get to school every morning. The reaction bordered jealousy, admiration and mostly, judgment.
Perhaps, Mr. Root should have used that money to do something more ‘valuable’ to the society? Perhaps, he should have taken his kids to an affordable school? Perhaps Mr. Root is the reason we are poor? Watching the comments flow on social media, it hit me that there is a certain judgment we hold against the rich. We point fingers at them as though they are sinning against humanity by spending their money, indulging in affluence. As though the rest are poor because they are rich. But the question is, if you had the money that Mr. Root has, wouldn’t you want to take your kids to the best schools, fly them maybe, take them for holidays to see the wonders of world if you felt like it and were capable? I mean, we are talking about your money here. Money you have earned. Money you control.
When it comes to money, our behavior is often interesting. Some people will often battle with guilt for being wealthy. And it is actually understandable, possibly a gut reaction of guilt, a tinge of regret for having money in such bad economy. When they show images of kids withering out of hunger in Northern Kenya, the guilt eats you up, and you put your plate aside. It bothers us. Possibly because that could be you, or could have been you. When we pass a beggar on the street without giving, the guilt is overwhelming. What is this thing about having that bothers those who have and those who do not have?
Is it that the rich are responsible for the poor? Do the rich owe the poor anything? Why is accumulation of wealth and its consumption an uncomfortable thing for those with it and those who witness it? The basis of the capitalist system usually is to amass wealth. So when we finally get there, why is it so uncomfortable? This could actually justify the common talk about too little and too much money being bad for you.
We cannot all be rich. Some are bound to be extremely rich, while others are bound to stand on the other extreme side. It is a society, and economic stratification is inevitable. But should the rich suffer because the rest are suffering? Do the rich owe the rest anything?