The Trek Episode 18 on Wealth: Civics Unplugged discuss Wealth and Prosperity – in collaboration with Humanity 2.0

Contributed by: Show Editorial Team

Gary Sheng, Madison Adams, Jordan Rodriguez, Ashley Rosser, Brycelyn Turner, Sara St. Clair, Julia Terpak, and Kasey Mushlit, discuss wealth on this week’s episode of The Trek

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Civics Unplugged hosts Trek Session with Gen Z community on defining wealth and social class constructs
  • Prominent Gen Z figures discuss what it means to be wealthy and how to be cognisent of your priviledge
  • Future leaders of America discuss the wealth gap in America and how it compares to the global wealth gap

FULL COVERAGE

SPONSORS 

Brought to you by: Humanity 2.0 – a Non-Profit (Non-Government Organization) focused on identifying and removing the most significant impediments to human flourishing through technology and thought-leadership in collaboration with the Holy See (Vatican).

Special consideration; to CommPro Worldwide for their PR and media support

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Gary Sheng, Co-Founder/COO at Civics Unplugged, Madison Adams, Director of Dialogue at Civics Unplugged, Julia Terpak, Founder of Gen Z Connect, Jordan Rodriguez, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged, Ashley Rosser, Interviewer at Gen Z Writes, Brycelyn Turner, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged, Sara St. Clair, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged, and Kasey Mushlit, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:09

Hello everyone. And welcome to the Trek. The Trek is a new Civics Unplugged series where community members participate in meaningful discussions that are often neglected when thinking about building the future. Through prompting questions and provocations, we explore complex, but important conversations related to building the future and democracy. We understand that this work requires ongoing dialogue, but it’s a journey worth trekking through. My name is Madison and I’m a high school senior from Verdigris Oklahoma. And I am joined by some amazing community members. Some of them builders, some of them 2021 fellows. And we’re going to go ahead and get started with our conversation today. We’re going to be talking about wealth. And so we start off with a word association. Everyone’s going to pick one to three words that they associate with wealth, and then as they do that, they will explain those words and give us a quick introduction. And also if we could do it in the order of those, that would be great as well. So Jordan, you can go ahead and get us started.


Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 01:14

Okay. So my name is Jordan Rodriguez. I’m a high school senior from Arizona and something that I associate with wealth, right off the bat is excess. I think that in the way that our society is currently structured, it’s kind of impossible to avoid the fact that some people being able to horde such immense wealth ultimately means that other people don’t have what they need. Like the wealth of the billionaires of our time is what defines the poverty of those that have the least we have unprecedented levels of wealth inequality that some hadn’t been seen since the days of monarchy. And this is unquestionably a harm to our society because we’re unable to address some of the most pressing issues, including things like climate change. When the power of society is held by a few select people that have different interests than the vast majority of the people. So the wealthy people have not only different interests, but disproportionate influence over politics and other aspects of society such as culture. So I think that when we discuss wealth, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the problem that we’ll face it, our society and those that don’t possess it.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 02:22

Well said for this section, why don’t we keep it like just short explanations for the, for the words and then we’ll, and then we’ll get into the meatier discussion after. 

Ashley Rosser – Interviewer, Gen Z Writes: 02:37

Hi, I’m Ashley, I’m a junior from San Antonio. And when I think of wealth, I think of taxes because that’s a really big discussion going on right now. Should the rich pay more taxes?

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 02:55

Hi, I’m Brycelyn I am a high school freshman from Florida. And when I think of wealth, kind of the first word that comes to my brain is capitalism because that is kind of the system in which our country is run. And a really big issue is what to do with the wealth that other people have. So that’s the first word that comes to my brain. 

Sara St. Clair – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 03:29

I’m Sarah, I’m a junior from Maine. And I think of responsibility because there are a few people that have the most money and it’s kind of up to them to decide and kind of show people what they want to do with that money.

Kasey Mushlit – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 03:46

I’m Kasey and I’m a sophomore in high school and I’m from Maine and probably the first word that comes to mind when I think of wealth is probably greed because a lot of the things in our time is mostly people thinking about themselves instead of others, which is one of the problems that we have.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 04:26

I’ll deviate a little bit to health and wellbeing. Because an older definition of the word was more related to health. But also it’s still related to health because disproportionate access to medical care.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 05:01

Yeah. So I’m going to go in different directions here. So I’m going to say uncertain, I’m going to steal responsibility from Sarah. And then I’m also going to put necessary because those two words, the second and third one, explain why I’m uncertain about it. Because like Sarah mentioned, I think while people do have a responsibility because no one is necessarily self-made and I know that there are a lot of wealthy people who do choose to. I’m so uncertain about this. And again, I’m just excited to learn more during this conversation and to think more about this topic. 

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 06:02

I’m Julia, I’m 23 years old and living in Pennsylvania, I would say the first that comes to mind honestly, was health and well-being. So I’m going to go a different route now. And I would say possessions is what I think of in a lot of ways, like in money or figuratively too. So that’s where that comes to mind.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 06:24

If anyone has a question or provocation, they want to pose, we can go.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 06:43

I don’t want to do another word association. But when you think of wealthy people and upper-class people, what do you tend to think of? Do you think you have a specific perception of them or a way that they’re going to be or treat you, or do you kind of think that they’re also people and they can be different from each other? Like how do you guys feel about that?

Sara St. Clair – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 07:21

Well, I know when I think of money, what comes to mind is kind of old money versus new money. Like you have the Rockefellers who have just kind of since the beginning of this country they’ve had money. And then I think of new money where people have work really hard to get it. Not that they haven’t worked really hard to get it, but for a long period of time they have had money. And I haven’t really thought of how they, I don’t know how I want to phrase it. Because the first thing that comes to mind is the business mogul or politicians. And there’s just a lot of different things. Because I feel like personally, when I think of wealthy, I kind of think I almost go straight to politics and kind of almost like dirty money, paying people off like that kind of stuff. But then I’m also kind of thinking of like the people who worked really hard to get their money in or like doing positive things with it.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 08:23

I think growing up just in movies and such, but the first thing you think of is just the suit and tie events and big party gathering type things like the Great Gatsby. 

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 09:11

Yeah. I think something that’s important to know is that once people reach a certain level of wealth, they’re essentially entirely disconnected from the struggles of ordinary people. They never really have to consider what the implications might be of healthcare policy or whether there’ll be able to feed their family or what might happen to their job, that they have, none of these normal material concerns that affect most people. And so I think that there’s a certain level of distance socially between the wealthy and the rest of the population. That can be a Gulf, it’s difficult to cross culturally and socially.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 09:44

So I have to admit that the first time we launched the fellowship I think partially the whole team, but I’ll take responsibility because I was mostly in charge of the tech and we just didn’t think about how few homes in a lot of areas have good internet. And a lot of areas, a lot of kids only have phones as well. And so a I’m an example of someone that was disconnected and I’m becoming more connected. But another question to not go to immediately, but how do people with different socioeconomic classes start to understand each other better? Yeah. You can even answer the, when you think of wealthy people question, I just wanted to get this question down.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 11:02

I think there’s really no other way to go about it, except making sure you iterate points where again, you’re putting yourself in people’s shoes. Like I just thinking daily life examples, for example, my last job, I can remember my mindset, in words exactly because I didn’t love my last job. So for example, and having moved on from that, I can’t fully grasp how I felt. I used to cause I’m just in a different chapter of my life now. So I think for wealthy people, you really have to, I don’t really know how to word this. Like be immersed in whether it’s different organization initiatives or whatever it is to really see the day-to-day and really almost experience someone else’s day to day rather than your own would be the best way to it.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: (12:07):

I feel like for me, I have a little bit of a different experience than most people because my dad is a doctor. So he’s of the upper-class, but then my parents are divorced and I primarily live with my mom who is not of that socioeconomic class. So I feel like it’s a little different because it’s like I kind of live in both worlds. And I think that the main thing to keep in mind is just that everybody’s a human and for the most part, nobody is really trying to be malicious at heart and or anything. So it’s like, someone cannot really understand how privileged they are until it’s explained to them or right in their face. So I think that the best thing that we can do is just try to communicate with each other and express things and promote empathy.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 13:02

Yeah, certainly I think it’s important to promote empathy and to understand that people who are in a position of great wealth, they’re generally just a product of circumstance, right? Like they were a product of certain privileges and a certain element of luck, certain element of talent or work. And that these people were merely just responding to the incentives of their environment, like our society encourages and in fact, demands the creation of particular wealthy people just because of the nature of accumulation of wealth. So it’s important not to demonize wealthy people, but to instead understand the material implications of them existing and having the resources that they do.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 13:37

Yeah. Related thought is that if you get overly emotional about it, you don’t see the power dynamics clearly. Right. And the wealth flows clearly and then you become prone to conspiracy thinking as well.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 14:15

Yeah. We’ve definitely seen this idea of conspiratorial thinking towards the upper-class. If you look at Q Anon at its core, is this like nebulous idea of the coastal elite that doesn’t understand the problems of the working people. And so a lot of people that have can succumb to this conspiracy theory are poor. They’re the working poor. And they’re vulnerable to this kind of conspiracy because of some of the resentment that they might feel towards people who have more than them, because they’ve been in a dis privileged position for their entire life. And the system is in some senses rigged against them.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 14:50

Yeah. And it’s possible that they’ve never seen a wealthy person do something visibly good for them. It probably has happened behind the scenes. Right. But seeing is believing. 

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 15:45

So I know we’ve touched on like the idea of responsibility. So I just want to pose wealth and responsibility as a provocation.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 16:01

Also want to we will save this for later, but do you want to be wealthy?

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 16:40

Okay. So with wealth and responsibility, I think that this is a broader point that applies to anybody that has some kind of privilege and wealth is certainly one of the biggest privileges you can have, you have a responsibility to use your privilege for good to the greatest extent possible. And so I think that’s something we should certainly seek to normalize is charity to a much greater extent than is currently normalized because wealthy people, generally they have money to the extent that a substantial donation like a substantial portion of their wealth is not contributing meaningfully to their day-to-day existence. Like their cost of living isn’t actually cutting significantly into the money that they have. And so encouraging socially through norms that they should donate the money that they’re not using actively essentially. Which would be a great proportion, certainly much greater than it is the standard today, can do great good for society if we focus that spending on the most effective causes.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 17:41

The other day, the whole college admission scandal thing that happened a few years ago and how the one full house Star’s daughter involved, she went on to a talk show to make her comeback and what she was talking about, the whole situation, how it came about. And it was just so crazy to see how out of touch with reality. She was just like, I just didn’t know it was bad people around me, their parents put all this money into colleges as a donations. And her family just did a different way of going about it. So she’s like, to me, it’s so normal. And like with everyone’s backlash on the internet, I was just so taken back. And I was just like, what? So it’s just crazy that she kind of put the responsibility that other people had to teach her that that was a bad thing. Like people who that affects their everyday lives, people who do these crazy things to get not crazy in a good way, like the hard work that they put in to get into college and everything. And she had to be explained that that is the normal way to go about things. Cause everyone around her was, that’s not how they went about getting into these great colleges. So it was just crazy to see that the way she stated things, her responsibility was on everyday people to teach her.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 19:03

I mean, kind of on a similar point on responsibilities of wealthy people versus everyone else. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on everyone in our society and our economic system to be super responsible with your money, because that’s just how it works for the most part. Like you kind of have to be ambitious and you have to pursue things. And I feel like it’s definitely a really different world for those who are born into wealth and privilege and those who aren’t because in a sense that people who are born into it almost have to have it taught to them while everyone else I feel like, kind of has to pick it up as they go, because they don’t have the privilege that wealthy people have to not have to worry about money. So I feel like in a sense, the way the family that you were born into, or that you are raised in, or whatever affects how responsible you will be with your economic status in the future.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 20:12

It just made me realize that we really have to celebrate learning progress, even if it’s incremental in learning how to be responsible. It goes along with Jordan’s point about not demonizing people, like people are a product of their circumstances. And one thing is almost for sure if you demonize them, they’re going to want to do the opposite of what you tell them to do.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 20:45

Right. And that’s just bringing it back to communicating with each other because we are all born under or not necessarily born, but we’re all raised in such different circumstances. So it’s like we can’t really demonize any group of people or say that one group of people is lesser in a certain sense than another, because we can’t help our circumstances when we’re being raised or born.

Ashley Rosser – Interviewer, Gen Z Writes: 21:22

Back to the last question I was thinking about how not demonizing people, because usually people say if I was in this situation, I would do things completely differently, but in reality, you really don’t know how you would react. So it’s important to keep that into perspective and just take it easy on them.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 21:46

Yeah. And to build off of Ashley’s point, this is why I think another thing that’s important is to not put personal responsibility on wealthy people to be benevolent. I think that certain systems in our society should make it should make it not depend on the individual morality of a particular wealthy person. And instead have much harsher taxes to do well, re-distribution that can be very beneficial to society overall.

Kasey Mushlit – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 22:14

I definitely feel like there’s a lot of pressure towards people who are wealthier and people who grow up with not having that experience and those kinds of things that they have. And so I feel like people pressure you a lot. If you grow up with these certain experiences and then not being able to have those experiences.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 22:50

I’m going to drop down to Gary’s question of, do you want to be wealthy? So for me, I feel like, obviously it would be nice to have a lot of money to do a lot of things, but I feel like when it all comes down to it, all I really want is to be stable and to not have to worry about it, but at the same time, I don’t feel like I need to have the excess of wealth that some people have going back to the word association at the beginning. I feel like I just want to be stable and I know that I don’t want to make any generalizations about wealthy people, because like I said, you know, it’s a little different, but I feel like wealthy people can definitely have a tendency to get, how do I phrase this to get not less patient over time, but it can kind of desensitize you when you were so used to having that kind of privilege of having a ton of money or whatever. Like it’s so easy to get desensitized to how other people might live. So I don’t necessarily want to be wealthy because I don’t want to risk that desensitization of not understanding anymore, if that makes sense. So stability would be ideal for me.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 23:53

Yeah. I agree with that. And I think that if I ever was in the position where I was wealthy, I wouldn’t want to act like it. I wouldn’t want to adopt a wealthy lifestyle. I would just live as if I were just stable financially. And because I feel like when you embrace the way that like, Oh, I have so much money. I could do so many things. Like that’s when it can really get to you and help make you desensitized other voice that people live.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 24:48

Yeah, definitely. It’s one thing that’s very clear about the way that humans live is that they adapt to their level of material comfort fairly quickly. So whether you live a middle-class existence or something higher than that, or if you’re incredibly wealthy, it will make a margin. It will make a very significant difference in your happiness because you just adapt to whatever level of comfort you’re at. So like ultimately wealth above a certain level, which represents economic stability. Like not having to worry about paying the bills or providing food for your family, which I think in the basic research that they’ve done is somewhere around $40,000 a year. I don’t think that’s really necessary for most people. So if I were to want to be wealthy, it would be because I think that it would make me a more effective advocate for what I want to do and the changes that I want to make in the world. So politicians often have to be very wealthy to be able to run a campaign, which is an unfortunate fact about society. So if I want to be a politician and be able to make change circle the trickle system, it’s possible that wealth is one of the only paths to that goal. And so essentially wealthy people are using their wealth, can be effective. So we do need some people aspiring to be wealthy in order to use that for good in the society that we live in.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 26:08

I want to make sure everyone that wants to answer this question has the chance, but Madison, can you write down how do you make sure you don’t get corrupted if you get wealthy? Because I’m sure a lot of really corrupt, wealthy people when they were kids were like I’m going to be an exception, but what happened?

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 26:37

I think that goes back to the point I made earlier, I was just spewing out words, but immersing yourself at some degree, because like everyone is saying, you can become desensitized so quickly because of these different iterations of your life, even just in everyday life, you probably forget you can’t put yourself in your shoes from five years ago. Like the exact feelings and everything that you felt like I eat up the show undercover boss, which is embarrassing, but I do watch that show. And you just see in those situations too, people doing those jobs for whatever it is a day or a week, like the CEO of companies. And then they realize all the discrepancies and everything. It’s very interesting to see that. 

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 27:06

I feel like at the end of the day, it all comes back down to, again, being able to recognize the privilege that you have. And that’s kind of something that’s been kind of apparent more recently with BLM and everything going on, because as a white person, I was like, Oh yeah, I’m not racist. But then you learned about, well, I learned about being actively anti-racist. So it’s like, you can’t just stop the effort at recognizing your privilege, but you have to do something about it and continue to speak up and help others. And I feel like, I mean, obviously there’s a difference between socioeconomic status and racism because there are different things that you can do. But I feel like at the end of the day, it comes down to recognizing your privilege and asking yourself how you can help others and how you are willing to help others.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 28:24

That’s great. I imagine that if you don’t have that reflective process about how you can keep doing better and better I think you just naturally think that you’re doing enough or you don’t even think about it or you don’t do it much.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 28:43

Yeah. I think this is similar to what Julia’s touching on, but I think it’s like you have to make a choice early on to not completely immerse yourself in the lifestyle of a wealthy person. So it’s like, yeah, if I have millions of dollars, I could buy 10 cars, but do I need 10 cars? No. So just making decisions send a chain reaction of other lifestyle choices that could corrupt you.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 29:17

On that note. Having gone to Duke, I met a lot of kids that did finance careers in New York city. I live in New York city. I’ve been here for five years, five and a half years. And if you hang around, people who are committed to keeping up a certain lifestyle you literally cannot be their friend at least in an active way, if you don’t keep up that same lifestyle. So I’ve found that if I distanced myself from people that really identify with their wealth I feel less tempted to do the same.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 30:15

Anyone who wants to bounce back to this question can, but I would like to pose another question that you can just write down and this question might be a little bit loaded or a little too political. You don’t have to use it, but if you could change one thing about our current economic system in our country, what would you change? 

Kasey Mushlit – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 31:27

I guess I’ll answer that question, but I feel like once you have that kind of wealth, you kind of get in a zone where you’re comfortable and you stay in that comfortable bubble and you don’t really notice at first. And then once you’re around people that aren’t as fortunate as you, since you have all this money and stuff that you kind of know or realize that what you’ve been doing, like how sheltered you’ve been from the world and not seeing everything that’s going on and what you could have been doing. 

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 32:22

I think something about the question about corruption prompts us to step back for a moment, because if you live in a bubble, if you live in a developed country and you have an income of about $50,000 a year you’re in the global top 1%, which I think is somewhat sobering because the majority of the world’s people live in abject poverty like this is just a fact about the world. Like there’s enormous Gulf in wealth and wellbeing between developed countries and developing countries. And that’s because of the history of colonialism and such. But I think that when we talk about how to not be corrupt, when you’re wealthy, how to recognize your privilege, it’s important to not talk about it as if it’s a hypothetical happening to another person who might be wealthy. It’s important to recognize that we probably experience a great degree of privilege just by virtue of where we live and where we happen to be born. And we should make sure to not take that for granted, even that level of what we might consider wealth in the global scale. So to not be corrupted is to constantly be aware of the people who are suffering and in much worse positions than you are, and to try to use your position to better those people’s places.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 33:18

Yeah. We might already be corrupted. We probably are to a certain extent. 

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 33:44

I’m going to go ahead and answer my own question. I feel like our entire system is very stacked in favor of certain groups of people. And I mean, there are a lot of different groups of people. It’s all over the place. Because you have rich versus not rich or different races versus each other, you know, even different sexes. So I feel like if I could change something, it would be the division that we have between groups to people. And obviously that’s a lot of work to do and that’s not going to happen immediately because the system kind of was built on those foundations. But I think that our entire country would run a lot more effectively and everybody could tolerate each other much more if we were all on the same playing field.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 34:47

That’s a great one. I don’t know if any of you know this, but do you know what the concept of an accredited investor is? So in order to invest in startups, you have to have 500K in your bank account. So, does that make sense? Right? Like, do you have to be rich to be able to build the future? It’s as simple as that, it’s literally institutionalized in our system that we don’t think that poor people are smart enough to, or people that are less 500K in wealth are smart enough to get ahead and make smart decisions with their money. And I think that’s just one example how it’s stacked against you.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 35:53

Yeah. So there’s a bigger problem here because the disparity of wealth it’s self-perpetuating and it all, so just detriment society overall. A lot of people tend to think a lot of wealthy people tend to think in this mindset of not wanting to increase taxes, because it would cut into whatever, big stack of resources they have in their bank account. But the reality is that we, as a society gain, when more people have access to the tools, they need to innovate and bring their ideas to the forefront of the world. We’re facing a lot of problems right now that if we had more of our country able to work on these problems, able to put their ideas forward and we’re educated enough to be able to do that and educated enough to start businesses and work on other forms of innovation, participate in democracy to a greater extent everybody would benefit. It is truly a societal projects to alleviate wealth disparity because wealth disparity doesn’t just hurt the poor. It hurts everybody. I don’t think that it will be possible to address many of the problems that we face without being able to use the resources of this vast swath of people that currently can’t reach their full potential.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 37:14

Any other thoughts on these two questions or provocations? Gary, should we just move on to the reflection, next steps section, and maybe we could spend a little more time on there. So I’m going to share this link with you all. Then you can look over these notes. Gary, what did you want me to label this section again? Reflecting on the Trek and charting next steps. And so just shout out your reflections or next steps when you have them ready. I will say that, I had a lot of paradigm shifts during this conversation. Something that Jordan up was really sobering, like the fact that we’re talking about wealthy people, but in the context of the rest of the world, we are wealthy people and it makes me wonder the kinds of conversations they have about wealthy people. And they’re talking about us and wealthier nations. And so also Jordan, what you said about how disparity harm society as a whole, because we’re not able to tackle a plethora of problems because there’s this huge percentage of people who cannot physically reach their full potential with the cards that they’ve been dealt. And so, yeah, it’s definitely changed my perspective.

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 39:35

I think that one of the main things that I took away from it, well, a couple of the main things that I took away from our how we are perceiving wealthy people versus how we are perceiving ourselves and how we can make the two, one with communication. I feel like we kind of talked about that a lot, whether it be putting ourselves in other’s shoes or actually talking to someone and socioeconomic group that is different from ours. I feel like we really emphasize the point of looking, not looking at wealth as something that is controlled, even though technically it could be, but just trying to look at each other as human beings, as opposed to a check number. I think that that was something we really hammered tonight. And that is something that I am happy to take away.

Ashley Rosser – Interviewer, Gen Z Writes: 40:57

Yeah. Something that Madison kind of touched on is how we’re rich to other people in the world. And then Jordan also talked about how we might be corrupt, and we don’t even know it. So I think a really good step would be to reflect on yourself and your privilege to see if you have that privilege and if you can fix anything.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 41:27

Yeah. I mean, something that I realized a couple of years ago, I was spending so much time thinking about like the world’s problems and I recognize wait, I’m actually in one of the rare percentages of people that can actually do that. So if I’m noticing these problems and seeing opportunities to make, to address them. So I guess that’s part of why CU got created.

Sara St. Clair – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 42:26

Yeah. I don’t know much about this topic, which is kind of why I, after I learned about the last one that I want to keep coming to these, I just thought it was really interesting how, we are kind of the top of the world, we are the rich people. And I just think personally for what I need to do is just educate myself more so that even though I’m not rich, rich, we have a lot of money, I do have that privilege and I can just educate myself better. So I can use that in a positive way to help others.

Kasey Mushlit – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 43:23

I would definitely take away that being educated about how you can use your time and use the money and privilege that you have, if you do have it to better society or better your community. Cause with the responsibilities that you have it would be nice to see a change in society from how it is now.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 44:02

Yeah. I think just echoing everyone’s recent points as well as I just thought the whole conversation that we were talking about empathy is the biggest way to approach the conversation on all ends of wealth whether or not wealthy or wealthy. But also I think we’re kind of struggling a bit with how to keep mostly people responsible and what’s the best way to approach that. So I think going forward that’s a big conversation that we can to try to tackle. And obviously incredibly important.

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 44:53

I think that in conclusion of all this, the most important thing to do going forward is to change the way that we socially perceive wealth. A lot of people aspire towards wealth, even if it’s not something that would actually make a big change in their life. And so I think that this is kind of a toxic, like cultural dynamic that we have where people will spend their entire life aspiring for something that they can’t really achieve because of the structure of the system. Only someone who people can be wealthy. And so we should try to lean away from a culture that fetishize as well and prioritize, addressing the real problems that come alongside of them.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 45:34

I have to say I mean, this is a self-selected group. But this conversation was gave me a lot of hope because I think the way that all of you see wealth as really mature and not hyper ideological in a way that is kind of self-defeating really, I think that’s really important because we do have a lot of multi supporters where we will over time only have supporters of all kinds like wealthy and not wealthy. And so how do we treat them? I think we need to do better than just viewing people as not digits. 

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 46:38

I like what you just said there about not treating people in digits, because I feel like people on both ends of the spectrum, so really wealthy people and really poor people tend to be reduced down to their wealth, but the people in the middle get kind of the luxury of being seen for who they are. And so I think that that’s really interesting as well, just to change it across the spectrum. Like no matter what you should be seen for who you are as a person. And also some of that Jordan touched on just about people striving to be wealthy. I’m realizing that all the conversations, in elementary school when it’s like, what do you want to be kids to be when they’re older? Like a lot of people tend to say they either want to be rich or they find a profession that they know pays a lot. And they’re like, I want to be this because I get paid a lot. And so it’s crazy to think about the mental models that people adopt from such a young age around wealth and how it’s something that a lot of people are just constantly striving towards and what in the end? Obviously I can’t speak because I’m not super rich, but it’s not fulfilling from what I can tell. So that was my final thoughts. 

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 48:16

It’s so funny that you said that about kids picking what they want to be when they grow up. Because when I was maybe six years old, I was in first or second grade and I literally decided that I wanted to be a lawyer because I played the game of life and lawyers paid the second most behind doctor. And I knew that I didn’t want to be a doctor. So I said lawyer, and it’s kind of funny because that was where it started. But then over the years I discovered that I had a passion for justice and equality. So now at this point in my life, I want to be a civil rights attorney because I can then go about promoting equality and creating justice from a law standpoint. But it’s so funny that you said that because the way that my obsession with being a lawyer started was because I knew that it paid a lot and that just goes to show how our society is.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 48:57

Do you like Brian Stevenson?

Brycelyn Turner – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 49:01

Yes. I read just mercy. It was great. I loved it.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 49:09

We have a connection to him through someone that we know if there’s a good reason to be connected with him, we might be able to make something happen, just throwing that out there. Anyways for any of the people that this is their first round of the Trek, any thoughts? 

Kasey Mushlit – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 49:45

I really liked it. I liked learning about other people’s opinions and just seeing how they viewed certain topics. And it was really educational and nice to hear other people. 

Ashley Rosser – Interviewer, Gen Z Writes: 50:11

I think the word association was really good to start off with because it kind of gets your thoughts in order, because I know when I heard, wealth I was thinking all these things, but the word association kind of led me in a better, more direct path for my thoughts. 

Jordan Rodriguez – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 50:29

This was my first Trek as well. I really enjoyed the conversation. Looking back at some of the other topics here on the list I’m somewhat disappointed that my first one was somewhat negative or at least it had involved a lot of negative elements considering our society. But I’m glad that I was able to share in your guys’ insight.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 50:45

All right. That was awesome. Thank you so much for we’re coming through. We’re going to have two to three of these every week we think it’s kind of an evolving thing. So please come back and we’ll talk about more, really interesting topics. I don’t know if I’ve had a conversation about wealth this deep with anyone really. So it’s not just gen Z that is getting that needs to have these kind of conversations. This is kind of missing everywhere. In fact once, as soon as next week, we’re going to bring back more of our friends who are of older generations and I’m keen on bringing in one of our advisors. Who’s like 70 something to see how that goes. I think it’ll be fun to mix it up. All right, Madison, thank you so much again for directing us. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Published By: Traders Network Show

Links: Original Article | Link to Series

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