Growing up as I did, I was fortunate to avoid resentment. Our subdivision sat where three groups came together: rich kids from old money, oilfield prospectors, and country kids just trying to find a path through life. I was friends with all three.
Knowing people with money reminds you of a few things. First, most of them are very good at what they do, and spend a lot of time and mental focus on it. Second, they have the same needs anyone else does, just a bit more complicated. Third, they can only be a benefit.
Most people in America now are blighted by resentment, which is the result of narcissism, because when you believe yourself to be amazing, information that contradicts that view hits you hard, like the old saw, “if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
People who think that way have to look at someone who is rich and say, “He just got that way because of luck. I could do that, and I deserve what he has,” despite not having done what he actually did. This is how resentment manifests itself.
For me, rich people were handy to know. When the church needed a new roof or the football team was doing a drive to get new uniforms, you could hit up rich people. They tended to see themselves as immensely fortunate and were often glad to share the wealth, although only to those who merited it. All rich people are eugenicists, and see the world as some good people and a mass of aimless and opportunistic predator-parasites (like vampires or mosquitoes) who must be avoided. If they thought you were a good, decent kid, they would help you.
If one of them was a bad guy, you just spread the word to the others. They would gang up on him and he would change his ways, or eventually find himself kept out of the country club. That, at least, was the Anglo method for keeping wealth in check, and it worked adequately in most cases.
Resentment makes you see a rich person, or popular person, and want what they have instead of desiring to make your own. That makes you feel weak, and that in turn makes you angry, which makes you into a quasi-criminal bent on revenge. This is a mental trap that harms people.
Democracy switches out thoughts from “how do I make my way?” to “am I equal?” and this deprives us of the agency that we need. We do not want what others have, but our version of what they have, something that we can take pride in. That is not equality, or inequality, but agency itself.
When people are wandering around like zombies rambling about “equality,” they have stopped thinking about how to make a life for themselves using their agency. This includes wealth, sure, but also self-actualization, wisdom, spiritual balance, and enjoyment of life (to me, the most important).
When we are always focused on something else — equality, resentment, the system — we forget to think about how to make lives for ourselves. As with the Soviet system, you end up with people who will just stay in bed all day if not told where to go, feeling their lives drain away in a Stockholm Syndrome stupor.
I like conservatism because it recognizes the need for strong realism and a transcendental goal, like striving for excellence. Anything else has us perpetually looking in the rearview mirror, thinking about what we do not have, and consequently, achieving nothing and hating ourselves for it.
Tags: equality, resentment, stockholm syndrome, wealth