The Hubris of the Comfortably Employed

Posted on August 13, 2013

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything about anything. Work and family keeps me quite busy as always. That has been particularly so while keeping my oldest daughter engaged in a number of activities. Just recently my wife and daughters came back from Japan (we have a plan to send my daughters to Japan to get them under the Japanese school curriculum during the summer months.) That is how we roll.

I want my daughters to be successful. But most important of all, I want them to be humble about their accomplishments, whatever they may be in life. I want them to be good Samaritans above everything else.

Fuyumi at a photoshooting session in Yokohama

Fuyumi at a photoshooting session in Yokohama

The Truth of The Matter.

If there is only one lesson that I can give them, it must be this: Our triumphs are never the result of our efforts alone.

For example, I could have worked as equally hard in Honduras or Nicaragua, but I would never had gotten to where I am now if I had stayed at either place (or anywhere else in the developing world for that matter).

On the other hand, when I came to a developed country such as this (circa 1989), there was  socio-economic context in place, full of federal grants and scholarships funded by tax payers and donations, infrastructure and educational opportunities and legal institutions that protect property and ownership, which all combined helped maximize the fruits of MY labor.

This is also true to one degree or another to everyone else that is a) currently employed and b) doing well. Context matters.

But… and There Is Always a But…

It would seem that such an idea, the one that tell us we owe everything we have to the collection of beings who gave us a hand (or that at least did not get in the way), it would seem indeed that it should be self-evident. Sadly, it is not.

It baffles me when I see some employed people (no one in particular, but a general observation) passing moral judgement to people who are passing through hard times. We are not talking about constructive criticism (where it applies), but vile, carte blanche moral judgements in the most general of terms.

Only 50% of small businesses make it pass the 4th year. And over 70% of businesses do not make it past 10 years of operations. Rarely people say that these companies fall because they were stupid or lazy or parasitic. Misguided plans, poor business vision, market changes, yes. But never a moral judgment on their honestic or work ethics.

But with people? A person goes unemployed? Oh, he is lazy. He is stupid, a smoocher, a hand-out seeker who did not do the right things, “like I did” or so the moral judgement goes.

If said person is forced to use social services, “he is a parasite!”

If he complains about the current conditions, “he is a socialist looking for a hand out at my expense!”

At no point the people who pass judgement stop to think “gee, I was actually given a hand, either by my family or society or tax-funded education programs or a relatively mature property rights system built by others before me or whatever so that my hard work actually bear fruits.”

If someone doesn’t want to help those in need, that’s fine. But do we need to demonize them as useless and unethical? As smoochers or parasites? That’s the rhetoric of the day, the hubris of the comfortably employed.

Let’s Call A Spade a Spade

Lebensunwertes Leben disguised as NIMBY, that’s what that is. If someone gets offended by this, well, that speaks more about themselves than about the nature of this truth.

The only person who can (but not necessarily should) do that is that one who can truly say he made himself up out of nothing with no reliance to an external system, implicit or explicit. Anything else is hubris.

Do you know anyone who is like this? In 43 years of my life in 3 countries, I have not.

For me, the only thing I can claim 100% ownership is my hard work (or lack thereof) and my willingness to exploit the resources in front of me (or at least the ones whose existence I’m aware of.)

The fruits of that labor? Not so. I only own partial ownership of it. The other part goes to a society that made that possible. I hope I can impart that lesson to my children.

To teach them to NOT to be self-biased, hubris-filled jerks, it is the best gift I can ever hope to give.

Don't you ever buy into your own hubris, m'kay?

Don’t you ever buy into your own hubris, m’kay?

 

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