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An Excellent Reason to Become Wealthy

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. It's hard to believe it's been four years since we watched the terrorist attacks unfold and forever change the lives of so many people.

And as we pass this milestone, we find ourselves witnessing another tragedy—the horrible devastation and widespread loss of life and property from Hurricane Katrina.

My heart goes out to the thousands of families who have lost so much and have so little—in some cases nothing.

And as I wrote a check to the Red Cross, I found myself experiencing yet another heartache. I'm glad to be in a position to contribute, but I was unhappy with myself that it couldn't be more. I've always wanted to write a check with at least four zeroes before the decimal point, and the sad truth is I'm not there yet.

I've never wanted to be anyone else. And I've rarely envied other people's success. But I have to say, when I read that people like George Clooney and Celine Dion gave a million dollars each, and when so many others stepped up with their generosity, I felt like a piker.

Everyone has their turning point. Everyone has that time in their life when they say, "Never again." For me, this was one of those times.

I live a very comfortable life and am blessed with many things. Maybe I'm TOO comfortable because there's really nothing I need. But I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. I am determined to be better positioned to make a more substantial financial contribution when the need again arises. And it will.

It's only been in the last few years that I've been thinking more about philanthropic endeavors. Most of my life, I've been so focused on my own needs and those of my family, there didn't seem to be much room for me to think about giving—at least financially—to others. It's hard to give to the needy when you're a bit needy yourself.

As a result of my frustration in not being able give more than I can right now, and because I'm blessed to live in a land of such substantial opportunity, I'm now thinking more seriously and in a much bigger way.

Years ago, I was inspired when I read about a piece of paper found in Andrew Carnegie's desk drawer after his death. Carnegie had written on it many years before: "I intend to spend the first half of my life earning as much money as I possibly can and then spend the rest of my life giving it all away." He accomplished both of those goals and was able to give hundreds of millions of dollars away before he died. His foundation, established in 1911, continues to benefit many worthwhile causes.

So what about you? What about me?

Where is it written that WE can't be philanthropists? We may not be able to amass the fortune Carnegie did, but what if we did? Even if we fell short, it would feel pretty good to give so much.

It starts with a dream. It starts with a goal. It starts with a burning desire.

I think we not only have a RIGHT to be rich, I believe we have an OBLIGATION to be rich. Because the wealthier we are, the more we can help. The more we earn—the more we buy—the more we contribute to a growing world economy. And a rising tide floats all ships.

Action Point
I urge you to give as much as you possibly can to the victims of what appears to be the largest natural disaster the United States has ever experienced. And I also urge you to set some serious goals with regard to your personal wealth so you're in an increasingly better position to give—and give generously.

By Michael Angier







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Last Updated 10/14/2005