As I stood on a rooftop in Washington D.C., I saw something that blew my mind.
Across the street, I saw about 50 colored kids playing basketball on broken hoops. The floors were cracked and the court was caged. The competition was high and the music was loud, but they were having fun as they played in the hot sun.
In my mind, I considered the penthouse I was going to buy and made a firm decision not to do it. After all, I was going to live in mirth and luxury while watching these kids shoot hoops, dreaming that one day they would make it to the NBA. It seemed to be a major contradiction.
What bothered me more is that one of the amenities offered was a full-sized basketball court. I thought, "How could I enjoy a game of basketball by myself when I knew I had dozens of hungry youth across the street?"
Growing up in a similar situation as those young men, I could clearly see both sides:
Poor Side: Those young adults didn't know that there was a full-sized basketball court with air conditioning in the building, nor would they believe that it would be for them, if they knew they had access to it.
Rich Side: The rich folks who lived in the complex would not even begin to understand the privileges of having a full-sized basketball court with air conditioning, nor the stiff competition they could be facing.
On both accounts, both parties would be guilty of IGNORANCE.
Most poor people are ignorant of wealth. Most rich people are ignorant of poverty.
Only a few poor people, like myself when I started, have a deep desire to overcome that ignorance. They say to themselves at a young age, "What makes me poor? What makes them rich?" These questions force them to search fastidiously what they need to do to anchor themselves to the path of wealth.
Conversely, there are a few rich people who say, "What makes me rich? Why do I have money while all those poor people suffer?" These folks begin to either use their wealth to heal the poor or begin to suffer along the same lines as a form of shared guilt.
Thus, to get from poverty to prosperity, we need to overcome ignorance.
If you are poor, you need to explore the path to wealth. You should start to familiarize yourself with luxury in all forms: vehicles, food, housing, etc. You should get closer to rich people and learn everything you can about them. You should be dedicated to being educated.
If you are rich, you could volunteer with the poor and begin to appreciate the wealth that you possess. You could also use your time and money to help the poor overcome their ignorance. However, you can only help them defeat ignorance when you confront your own.
The path to prosperity is easy. I do not suggest a re-distribution of wealth, lest they end up in the same hands, like they always do. However, I do recommend that a few poor people would desire wealth as a few rich people help them get there.
Someone asked me yesterday, "Can anyone become a millionaire?" The answer is yes and no. Yes, because you need to have a strong desire, coupled with great natural talent and a strong work ethic. No, because not everyone has those elite compositions or the drive to make it happen.
Furthermore, wealth is a state-of-mind rather than a dollar amount. I believe that the majority of rich people started out poor. They decided to overcome ignorance and relentlessly exercised their natural talents. They created unstoppable motivation and were considerably generous to others along the way as they reached the rarefied airs of achievement.
And eventually, when they got to the rooftop, they helped others do the same.