Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rich in Money, Rich in Good Works

When I was a freshman at Columbia University, on my first weekend in New York City I went to Central Park. On my way back to campus, I walked in front of the Dakota (the apartment building where John Lennon was slain), and an alien thought nestled in my mind: Who lives there? Why some people can afford to live there and others not?

Years later, I met Alice Tully--the patron and benefactor of Lincoln Center--at her residence in Central Park South. Dazzled by Ms. Tully's spacious quarters where she lived alone, by the location, and by the opulence of the building, I wondered about being rich in money. What was the good of it? Is it a virtuous goal to desire to be wealthy?

Life has taught me that the only justification for the desire to accumulate riches is the desire to share and do good works with that wealth. A person who is only rich in money and only hoards his riches cannot be virtuous. The legendary King Croesus gained admiration only after he lost all his riches. In the Roman empire, Seneca --the Stoic philosopher, and richest man on earth-- could not bribe anyone at any price to save his life.

Riches will come easily to individuals who think of others and not of themselves. A man who gives half of his salary to his family and keeps the other half for himself is only half a man.

In my view, a life without faith is a wasted life. Faith without good works isn't faith at all but self-indulgence. Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are men of faith and are determined to do good works with all the wealth they have accumulated.

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.
Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

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