Letters To The Editor Eschew Guilt: Of Wealth And Inherent Power

Posted: March 18, 1986

I reply to David O'Reilly's March 2 article on inherited wealth, in which I was quoted.

While it is true and, I think, useful for us to understand that wealth does not of itself bring happiness and does bring its own particular kinds of difficulties and challenges, there is more. The root of the isolation, confusion and guilt that plague owning-class people is the same as the root of the difficulties and challenges faced by working-class people: an economic system that is based on acquisition by a few from the productivity of the majority. This is not the fault of any particular people, even the most ruthless entrepreneur. We all are born into and conditioned to play roles in the world as it operates, and most of us simply try to be as successful and human as we can within that context. A few, like the Gettys, go to extremes: These are the ones we read about.

I am not a flaming leftist. I deeply love and respect my uncle who voted for President Reagan, even though I disagree with his politics. While I want to see the world change in profound ways (yes, even if it means I give up my economic privilege), I want it to change such that the strengths and wisdom of all of us, owners and workers alike, are used to forge a new, heretofore unseen social-economic organization. In it, we will all own, we will all work, we will thrive as individuals and as members of a cooperating community.

I am not presently "waiting for the day that (my) family sells off the Texas farmlands" so I can get a share of the profits. I am thriving on being a mother (I prefer to call myself proud and committed rather than doting). I am, as time permits, laying the groundwork for an income-producing career.

I am also deeply enjoying working with other people from backgrounds similar to mine, as well as with people very different from me, to figure out how to forge the kind of world I just described. I do this informally and through several organizations, a main one being Bread and Roses Community Fund, which does far more than raise money for socially progressive work.

While wealth may bring with it woe, there is a dependable fail-safe for all of us, wealthy or not. We are (even if our economic status tries to obscure it

from us) all born inherently powerful, good human beings. We can work together to figure out what is going on and how we want to change it. Events all over the world, even in these times of terrorists and nuclear fear, underscore this truth.

I long ago gave up dwelling on guilt. Life is much more fun when we focus on claiming our true capabilities instead, and that is what I am about.

Ellen Deacon


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