Thursday, March 10, 2016

Family Constitutions

Being wealthy can get complicated. Particularly if that wealth is shared.  Many very wealthy families end up being mini-institutions. They have to have things like 'Family Constitutions' deciding what they stand for. What the rules are. They have to think about succession planning. Who is going to run the family? What skills are required? Countries have constitutions for dealing with how people are supposed to interact with each other. One of the first known written constitutions came from Medina where a group of families asked Muhammad to come from Mecca to Yathrib (which became Medina) to help a group of families function as a 'bigger unit'. As the unit got bigger and bigger, this constitution would have become less relevant. More abstract.

Learning to work together

There is something empowering about not having to bother with being part of a bigger group. You don't have to get permission. When things are small, and without huge repercussions, decisions can take account of subtleties. The unspoken. When it is just you, you can decide how you spend your money. You can decide how you spend your time. When you are in a relationship, suddenly you have to discuss spending habits. When you have children, you have to think about their needs. For most people, there is then a huge jump between that and the constitution of the country. 

At each stage, it requires uncomfortable conversations about what is important. It requires compromise. It requires taking into account minorities. It involves thinking about what is okay to force people to do, and what is not okay. When is it okay to be paternal? When do you need to let people find their own way? A struggle between individual rights and group rights.  As groups get bigger you become a custodian of the shared wealth and culture of the group. What responsibilities do the privileges you have inherited entail? We struggle enough deciding who we are. Deciding who a group is is even more complicated. Groups evolve. They share. They learn. 

Groups are also where the magic lies. The support when we are down and out. The people to celebrate with when we have shared success. 

True wealth lies in our complicated connections to other people.
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