An Open Letter To Mitt Romney And Anyone In The 1% Who Thinks I Am Envious Of His/Her “Success”:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1%,
You may not know me, or anyone like me, but actually, there are quite a few folks out in the United States and around the world like me. I am someone who has chosen a vocation that will not bring me “success” as you seemed to have defined it. I will never be, in your words, any of “those people who have been most successful in the one percent.” Let me introduce myself. I am a Chicago Public School teacher by choice. I actually decided I was going to be a teacher when I was growing up. I decided at a young age that my personal ambition was to focus on what I believed to be the social good. In my case, that has meant I have spent my adult life trying to help students learn. I realized that when I made my decision to become a teacher, I was foregoing any chance at a lifetime of wealth. I actually made that decision. It wasn’t forced on me. I didn’t decide to become a teacher as a fall back option after discovering that I couldn’t be “successful.” Other friends of mine subsequently chose to be, among other professions, nurses, public defenders, ministers, and social workers. When my friends chose their respective professions, they also decided to forego any chance at a lifetime of wealth. They also did not do this as a consequence of first failing at being “successful.” They actually chose to forego any chance of joining the one percent you consider to be most successful.
I cannot speak for my friends, but I have chosen my life’s work, to some extent, as a consequence of my religious upbringing and the actions of my parents. My religion (as well as virtually every religion I know) suggests that a lifetime focused on the pursuit of financial wealth is not the way to success. My parents also taught me that understanding when “enough is enough” is a fundamental aspect of being successful.
This may be difficult for you to understand, but I tell you this truthfully: I consider myself and any number of my friends to be highly successful. None of us are envious of your wealth. We feel very fortunate to have warm places to be at night, enough to eat, and families who love us despite our decision not to dedicate ourselves to attaining incredible financial wealth. When we consider the people who are in the top 1% of financial wealth, we are more concerned that that wealth has allowed you undue influence on national policies which affect everyone, all 100 percent of us.
We hope (and many of us pray) that with your undue influence, you will recognize the importance of measuring success in terms of how you treat the rest of the human race.
I wish you the best of luck in your discernment of the best way to live your lives.
Jay C. Rehak
January 12, 2012
QUESTIONER: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word envy. Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?
ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.