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Pieter van der Borcht:
Christus in het huis van Martha en Maria
[Christ in the house of Martha and Mary]

"Success brings no wisdom."

Begrudging seems the least likely side effect of Success, yet billionaires everywhere seem to have become full-time disgruntled social commentators. I would have thought that a billion bought a certain sustainable level of satisfaction, but I would have apparently been wrong and not a little wrong. Indeed, the very rich and (if only by implication, then) the very Successful seem to have been grievously wounded on their way up through the ranks. Not even those homes located in fabulous places or their super yachts or private airliners serve to salve those festering wounds, which appear to have become incapable of ever healing. Some spend lavishly churning up the rabble, funding propaganda campaigns and think tanks so well endowed that they never have to resort to actually thinking. Begrudging might seem beneath them, but it turns out to be their purpose instead.

Why, I wonder, do so many of the uber-successful consider themselves radical conservatives?
I'd naively think that anyone with so damned much money to burn might find some vague interest in improving this world rather than denying it. Conservative Values seems like one of those oxymoronic terms, so self-contradictory that it insults intelligence. Those fearful of the next generation might find their fears well-founded without noticing that every prior generation shared those fears, too, yet here we are, vastly improved over where we were when our ancestors championed conservative causes and gratefully lost. Instead, they chose to chase the one objective nobody ever catches and "invest" their perhaps too-easily-earned money chasing windmills on horses, pursuing illusory chivalry. Congratulations or something!

These days, it takes more than vast finances to become Begrudging, though wealth sure seems to help. The working classes, hollowed out by the effects of current conservative policies, too easily find reason to join the Begrudging class, a society that historically punched far above the average working person's weight class. The worker might instead renounce upward mobility in favor of a harder-won humility, which renders them Successful without ever having to make any contracts with any devils. Of course, we all aspire to be someone else, like those folks so accurately projected in flat-screen entertainment. We might wonder whatever happened to those good old days if those days come back all gussied up and without the pervading scent of horseshit, the way yesterday used to actually smell. Anybody pursuing the past should properly feel aghast at what promises/threatens to come next. The Society for the Preservation of Horseshit has no shortage of members, almost exclusively Repuglican and so-called Successful.

It might be most important to carefully choose one's Success, lest one purchase a life of Begruding rather than ease. The wealthiest person in the world should not be able to afford to maintain their nose out of joint. The dissatisfied spirit can't, by design, get satisfaction. It could have settled but didn't. It insisted upon rattling, railing, and cursing its in no way inferior condition, even though it's exponentially better than any dozen of its ancestors'. Success brings no wisdom. Wisdom might have had to have been an initial ingredient if the result was ever going to satisfy anyone. We might pursue Success, but those who mistake its acquisition for wisdom might find themselves cursed to chase illusory pasts and engage in conservative causes, feeding Begrudging rather than Success or satisfaction.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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