Sunday, November 30, 2014

Money, Monet

Let's get the elephant in the room dealt with- I am most definitely a "privileged white person". Am I a "privileged Christian" or "privileged man"? No. I am just a very fortunate white person. I was born white. Thus, no one hates me for being black or otherwise. Being a Jewish female, on the other hand, has gotten me into some sticky situations. That's okay, though. Well, not okay. It shouldn't happen. Stop picking on me, guys! BUT, it is not a unique experience I've had, because, unfortunately, everyone at some point or another suffers for being who they are. Unless you're a white, male Mormon. I think bullying a Mormon is punishable by four years of feet-dangling.

And... this doesn't have much to do with my topic today. Well, it does, as, money certainly helps one be privileged. On the other hand, I don't have said money because I am caucasian. I have it because my parents are very intelligent and hardworking people. They came from the nether-regions of New York City and they worked their way into a new tax bracket.

If your grandparents or great-grandparents arrived to America from Neverheardofit, Pakistan, Dontcare, Mexico, or Weate Ourkidz, Russia; they definitely suffered. Woe is them! How they suffered.

Then, they had kids who worked hard and achieved "middle-class" status, despite their religion, gender, or background - believe it or not, growing up in the Depression as a Jewish (in my family's case) immigrant from Wemightaswellbedead, Austria, was no easy task.

So, these fine men and women all went on and had families. One kids, three kids... whatever it was, they had those kids and they made them live together; shoved into a one-bedroom apartment or studio like lox in airtight packaging.

These children went on to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Again, in my case, literally. Thus, money came into play. Money was not plentiful at first, but with a lot of hard work, dedication, and wacky tobaccy, (but not really. Or, maybe!) these kiddos became successful in their field(s) of choice and moved into the upper-middle class, or possibly even the upper-class. Ooh la la!

The next step was the tricky part, however. When these children grew up and achieved great things, they then had children of their own. Now, these children were in a difficult position. They were growing up with the luxuries of wealth and privilege, so where was "up"? They might be able to do better than their parents. They might make more money and have a fancier job title... but that would require twice the time, money, and effort. Plus, the more modest children would then feel like a spoiled, overly-ambitious copy of their parents.
They could do just as well as their parents, but that wouldn't be too interesting. Or, they could do less than their parents due to laziness, disinterest, fear, or self-doubt.

Not to mention, the years of being told, "You don't understand, your life is perfect. You have money..." pays its toll on a person's conscience. Depending on an individual's personality and experiences, money and success can really mess with one's head. Guilt may lay on one's shoulder like a sack of Moonpies filled with steel instead of cream, and result in depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and way too many cats named "Mitzy Boo Boo".

So, the real question here is, does money make the man? Can we assume someone's life is easier, happier, better... because they have money? Or, does it come with its own stressors, challenges, and not make living life any easier? My vote is "Yes."

Yes- having money means you can travel, eat well, buy gifts, go out, stay clean, maintain a little more safety in your life, pay bills... so on.

No- having money does not make you immune to diseases and disorders, lost friends, no friends, friend who take advantage of you, people who hurt you,  stress, expectations, fears, anger, loss... so on.

If your entire life is defined by what you can pay for, or not pay for, (which is perfectly legitimate, as most things cost money) then, you may see the Yes. You may assume your life would be perfect if you could pay your mom's medical bills, buy your kids Christmas gifts, pay off your student loans, or not have any in the first place, and take everyone on a trip to Disney.

However, if you have all these things, and still feel a sense of loneliness, confusion, and fear, along with all the emotional, and sometimes physical symptoms of life, then you may disagree. Wealthy or not, humans are made to hurt. No human is made to never be sad, but some humans are made to never be happy. Whether there is a fair and right reason for this, that is not the issue. The point I am making is, well, I don't know. I don't know if wealthy people understand unhappiness and suffering as others do. I don't know if it's equal. No one can understand the pain another person is going through. There is no equal or worse pain, there is simply pain and obstacles.

Personally, I don't feel any sympathy or empathy for those who disregard the pain of others. If you get by in life with the mantra that money isn't everything, there is no room for you to treat a "One-percenter" as if they are not human. That they are a different, heartless, cold species that doesn't get how hard it is to be you. Of course, this doesn't work for either side. You can donate to every cause in the world and I still may not respect you if you are doing it for the wrong reasons or partaking in a slave trade on the side. Or, if we learned anything from Plato's Republic, as we should have, we have no use for actions if there is no intention. Sometimes the actions are good enough, but typically, intention is a huge part of things! Huge.

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