“J’en faisoy un secret; et moy, qui ose tant dire de moy, ne parloy de mon argent qu’en mensonge, comme font les autres, qui s’appauvrissent riches, s’enrichissent pauvres, et dispensent leur conscience de jamais tesmoigner sincerement de ce qu’ils ont. Ridicule et honteuse prudence.” M. De Montaigne, Essais, Livre 1, Flammarion 1969, Chapitre XIV, p. 105.
(amateuristic English translation: “I made it a secret; and I, who dare say so much about myself, did not speak about my monery except in lies, as do the others, who make seem they are poor when they are rich, or make seem they are rich when they are poor, and discharge their conscience of ever saying truthfully what they own. Ridiculous and shameful prudence.”)
I am rich. Worse than merely being rich, I became rich by complying to the social pressure towards a profession which was almost sure to make me rich; and abandoning what hope I had from achieving something meaningful in the line of things that were of real interest to me.
Shame on me?
Ought I not have set a better example for others by pursueing my ideals rather a comfortable life of which I know it’s a goal almost unachievable to most? I probably deserve the frustration and the irritableness with which I see others who didn’t choose a life of comfort and ease performing, and being praised, for their achievement in the field that would be mine in the event I had had the dedication not to have chosen for ease and for comfort. I would even have had cause to being taken seriously when complaining of the lack of achievement in that field that is now impossible to make mine had I chosen differently.
Quod non. I am guilted and it is a guilt I will have to deal with. My cross to bear; so on, so forth.
But I don’t buy it. I simply don’t. I may be imperfect, but imperfection is neither a cause for guilt nor a good reason for modesty. I am convinced everybody should be rich, regardless of their achievements or lack thereof. There is nothing compulsory or essential about being needy or uncomfortable. Creativity is not born from discontent; if it were there is no reason why creative people almost unvariably are born in a context of wealth or have allowed to be adopted by the wealthy.
So, far from feeling guilty about having made a priority of becoming wealthy, I am veritably pissed off by the fact that those coming before me have failed to achieve societal progress to the extent of ensuring wealth for all. It is their fault, not mine, that I have lost (and am loosing) valuable time in acquiring fortune (and making sure I do not loose it). If it’s a matter of guilting somebody, it is our predecessors who need to be guilted.
I won’t make the same error by providing an example of sacrificing my personal (and familial) comfort for “the greater good”. In fact: fuck “the greater good” because it surely didn’t have any problem in fucking us. I take responsibility in demonstrating that one first of all has a basic right to being comfortable; not just to being fed or housed or whatever it is that rights junkies may come up with, but to being comfortable: to have a bloody swimming pool as far as I care, or a lot of food that gets bad before you can eat it, or a fuck whenever you feel likt having one. If I need to be an example, I will be an example of my own “personal good” because that is what I want everybody to have – so they don’t have to go wasting time in doing stuff they don’t feel like doing.
If you happen to be someone who takes comfort in having sacrificed something or, worse, who thinks badly of those of us who have failed to make sacrifices, go to a shrink and leave the rest of us alone. We don’t need guilt. We just want to straighten out in our way what was left crooked by the ancient thinkers you so adore: the correlation between “making a real effort” and “deserving a break”. The only truly human society is the one where nobody needs a break, let alone needing to deserve it.
Because for all of the benevolence you see in your sacrifices, by sacrificing you show your buy-in to something else as said by Montaigne: “Nul n’est mal long temps qu à sa faute.” (“Nobody is in a bad shape for a long time except by his own fault.”), which is a beastly thing to say when meant literally, knowing that the vast majority of people are in a bad way for almost all of their lifes without even having the slightest idea that it could be different. Although, maybe, it is a rather appropriate thing to say of all of those sacrifice-addicts who feel systemically underrecognized and overtaxed – there is a relationship between both of these feelings, you know.
After all, I never feel bad for a long time except if I get addicted to the notion that feeling bad is somehow required for being worthwhile.
[Whilst writing this I was listening to something by ‘Ministry’.]