Money in a poor country and money in a rich country



Great writing by R. Kapuscinski from The Emperor

‘Money in a poor country and money in a rich country are two different things. In a rich country, money is a piece of paper with which you buy goods on the market. You are only a customer. Even a millionaire remains a customer. He may purchase more, but he remains a customer, nothing more. And in a poor country? In a poor country, money is a wonderful, thick hedge, dazzling and always blooming, which separates you from everything else. Through that hedge you do not see creeping poverty, you do not smell the stench of misery, and you do not hear the voices of the human dregs. But at the same time you know that all of that exists, and you feel proud of yourself because of your hedge. You have money; that means you have wings. You are the bird of paradise that everyone admires. […] Money tranfroms your own country into an exotic land. Everything will start to astonish you- the way people live, the things they worry about, and you will say, “No, thats impossible.” Because you will already belong to a different civilization. And you must know this law of culture; two civilizations cannot really know and understand one another well. You will start going deaf and blind. You will be content in your civilization surrounded by the hedge, but signals from the other civilization will be as incomprehensible to you, as if they had been sent by the inhabitants of Venus.’

Ryszard Kapuścińsky, The Emperor

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