I used to be very curious about power, money, and success (as so many young people are, particularly in a certain modern global empire). I felt like a “loser,” and I bought the lie that all “winners” get to the top through superior effort and work ethic, which means they deserve everything; “losers” are simply bad people who don’t deserve anything in life. But I don’t believe that anymore.
Once upon a different life, I bumped into a wealthy older guy at a pretty expensive bar. He was sipping an amber liquid next to an almost uncomfortably beautiful woman. He had the relaxed air of a man who had earned more money than I could even imagine and who had seen and done everything he wanted to do; the kind of older person who doesn’t care what anybody thinks because they have already proven themselves to themselves.
Now, the whiskey may eventually have blocked out the finer points of discussion in my memory, but one thing he said at the beginning of the night has stuck with me for a lifetime.
“Power, money, and sex – those things are what make the world go round.”
And after spending a lot of years as an observer on this strange planet, I’ve got to say that I think he might have had a point. And I think that in my travels among the humans, at least in a particular global empire, a rule has emerged (a rule that has little to do with the childish propaganda “winners deserve everything” and “losers suck”).
Power (and money, and success) are so very often a version of Evolution by Natural Selection. What does that mean?
A small amount of power (money, “success,” fame, whatever else) comes to those who are willing to commit small atrocities to get it.
A medium amount of power comes to those who are willing commit medium atrocities.
And virtually unlimited power will come to those who are willing to commit virtually unlimited atrocities.
In a corrupt system, these things tend to come to the people willing to do the awful things required to obtain them; and the more willing someone is to do whatever it takes, the more they will push out the less willing, until after a few decades in such a system, you’ve got a room full of the richest, most powerful sociopaths and vampires you could imagine.
Thankfully, there are some big exceptions. There are still rich, successful, powerful people who genuinely care about and help other humans, who seem to have good souls and who impact the world in marvelous, positive ways. One just hopes that their kind becomes less rare (or, better, that an entire broken system could be thrown into the dustbin of history to start from scratch).
Now, hard work does pay off, and (clean) money is not in and of itself evil (same goes for power, sex, fame, “success,” in and of themselves). But there is joy in a quiet, good life. Away from the center, away from the top.
Life “at the top” doesn’t seem like a happy place, being as it is so very nasty, brutish, and short. I haven’t met many happy people who live there (or who spend their lives trying to get there). The worth of a life is not measured in dollars or social media followers. I think it has to do with creating and reaching your own definition of success and worth instead of some prefab ideal society or the Machine taught you to chase.
Image: Shutterstock (Used under license)