Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Keep on Keepin' On

I graduated college in the midst of economic recession; I and my friends, at that time, BELIEVED (really KNEW) that we would never achieve the middle-class success of our parents; and yet, what else was there to do but plug away?

And, lo, the world changed. And now I am fortunate...enough.

My point (or, the lesson)? Given that the future is inherently unknowable, it serves one well to proceed as if good things will eventually come.

The application? I was recently berated with one of those "you have no idea the obstacles these kids face" diatribes. Yeah, yeah; I know: despite divorce, bankruptcy, family dissolution, and that whole Gulf War thing, I have no idea how "the other half" lives. Liberals say that "these kids" live lives marked by hopelessness, i.e., the BELIEVE (really KNOW) that nothing awaits them no matter how hard they try (better, then, to await boosts and handouts from the Liberals, who think they will get into Heaven that way).

I am more of the Clarence Thomas camp.

On a related thought: I was thinking about "the poor" and the empathy gap (where the rich and the poor are so far apart that mutual understanding is now impossible) and how "the rich get richer," blah blah blah; I was also thinking of the "how NICE for YOU" crowd. And I was also thinking about who really kills whom in this world (Liberals might argue that me and mine kill from the top down, i.e., set up conditions under which the down-trodden seek to kill one another as proxy for their inability to "fight the power"; yeesh).

But being "poor" in the U.S. really isn't a bad deal or, if it is, then why don't people change their circumstances--or at least their zip code? ("How NICE for YOU.") Okay, then why don't grown-ups act like, well, grown-ups, at least insofar as their children are concerned? (hNfY) Okay, then why have *I* been able to more or less follow through on that Life view which, for me, really has not changed since I was 12 (and, by the way, was in contravention--and is still--to much of my family's worldview)?

Those with ability (or luck) prefer meritocracy; those middling to mediocre (and below) prefer some level of [synonym for] socialism (and usually at the expense of the other group). Beyond self interest (i.e., insurance to keep the hordes from stealing one's stuff), does Group A have some responsibility for Group B? If so, what level of responsibility do members of Group B have for themselves?

Personally, insofar as I engage in charitable activities, I prefer those efforts that seek to sort out some likely members of Group A who, for whatever reason, have fallen among Group B. That is, I feel responsibility to help those of my tribe, if you will (because we need more members, THAT's for darn sure!).

By the way: I have been reading Fooled by Randomness, which does little to forward the Group B cause.

In any case: it is my belief that I would continue to live as I do under pretty much any condition. I admit that I have not been tested under all conditions, but I would argue that I certainly have kept on keepin' on under greater extremes than that experienced/endured by many, if not most. Plus, many examples exist of people clinging to principle even unto destruction (think of certain of Primo Levi's characters, or of Levi himself), although there may be self-reinforcing (random) luck involved as well. How NICE for YOU.

I recently read a criticism of Ayn Rand, stating that her adherents are most often young men at the height of their powers, unable or unwilling to empathize with the weak (even or until when they themselves, older, are diminished). Perhaps, though, Fortune really does play a greater hand than we would like.

Oh I am a lucky man
Favored by good Fortune's hand
Far more than I'm deserving.

I had no say in being born
Or where or when it happened to me
It was only Chance that turned the wheel
And made my living easy

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