This post should have been titled ‘Shades of Grey’ but that phrase has been ruined by a terrible book about an abusive relationship, written by someone with no concept of what informed consent is. However, it IS about the shades of grey that comprise Real Life.
As with everyone who uses the internet (I imagine) I occasionally get dragged down the deep, dark rabbit hole of link after link after link. More and more absorbed into a subject, or interlinked subjects, until I reach the inevitable hard stop of disappointment, the wall of nuance-less black and white, built by a (fascist, racist, sexist…you fill in the blanks) person who either cannot conceive of the possibility that they are wrong, or that there are things in the world that they cannot understand.
But sometimes I find thought provoking gems along the way. This is the tale of one such rabbit hole dive.
Kottke.org I don’t remember how, why or when I started reading this blog, but it has been the starting point for many a wandering internet journey…highly recommended. From there I clicked:
Any old school bloggers still posting? This actually led to three or four new blogs that I’m reading (I do so love finding new and interesting stuff to occupy my mind) in particular:
Mischeathen.com A delightfully sharp pointer to many a fine read. From here I found the piece that trigger all this nonsense. An article that made me gasp with joy at having found someone who had managed to articulate my own kneejerk reaction whenever a millionaire or billionaire’s name is mentioned. At last, I was not alone in the world, hating those who spend thousands on a piece of jewellery when, just a few miles up the roads from them, real people are homeless, jobless and in pain.
It’s basically just immoral to be rich. This article is from 2017 so there have been a number of responses, as articles themselves and in comment threads on sites that deal with financial and social issues. I decided to read some of them, in case my kneejerk reactions are wrong and in case I found a perspective that gave me more to think about.
I DID find more to think about, but I also concluded that my kneejerk reaction is the perfect place to…..start. Not the be all and end all, a start.
Most of the rebuttals to the original article appear to have been written by screaming toddlers who have been told they must share their sweeties (or maybe they are grown up’s who never were told?) How dare they have been asked to consider other people instead of just themselves?!
But here’s where the hard thinking comes in.
Is it even possible to earn a significant amount of money without disadvantaging someone somewhere?
Why should anyone else have the right to tell you how to spend your money (if you can justify it being your money)?
How much money is too much money?
Where do you draw the line between having enough to live a good, happy life because that’s what you work for and not hoarding resources that could lift others out of pain and misery?
Where do your obligations to others start and finish?
Does charity being at home and, if so, what does that even mean when you have 4 homes, 3 yachts and a vineyard in the South of France?
I doubt if I will ever reach a definitive conclusion on this, even with the amount of thought I lovingly put into it, because I don’t need other people (or even myself) to see me as morally good. I believe that I have the right to save money for my own peace of mind. I spend time working out where my own ‘lines in the sand’ are, the times and places when I say ‘I have enough now’. I give as much as I want to others, sometimes more than other people, sometimes less.
We Do have an obligation towards others. The million invisible lines that connect us are also the reason that some people don’t have healthcare, don’t have homes, live on less than $2 a day (or week). We get rich OFF others. Our actions have consequences, even if we never see them. (My coffee consumption enables huge companies to force farmers to accept less than living wages and keeps them in poverty…and that’s not even the worst example).
The only way I can end this is by acknowledging that everyone has to make their own choices (sorry…) Although I am perfectly entitled to my opinion that millionaires and billionaires are morally bankrupt people (for the most part) I am not entitled to tell them what to do with their wealth (unless they break democratically made laws, in which case, convict those bastards immediately. Make them pay, with money, lots and lots and lots of money, ALL THE MONEY, for the damage they cause). I believe that there is a point at which an amount of money held by one person becomes too much money.
Only I can do what I need to do to get to sleep with a clear conscience at night. But, trust me, sleep really IS a lot easier when you know you’re doing the right thing (most of the time…sometimes I just really want that latte).