Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another Example of How We've Changed

A lot of people are going to disagree with me, but this is my dark side, so what do you expect?

This story enrages me. I don't want to speak ill of the dead, so please understand I am speaking of this event conceptually, not individually.

This man will never see his children get married, let alone meet his grandchildren. He has left his wife without a husband, and his children without a father. For what did this man sacrifice his life? For a noble cause? The betterment of humanity? Or for his own personal "sense of achievement?" Is that really worth it?

I'm trying not to lambast this guy; he's doing what he's been taught to do by various fairy tales like "you can do whatever you put your mind to" and "Just Do It!™". He's trying to feel something in this world full of meaninglessness. But no matter how "young you feel" or how much you train, sometimes you can't do what you want, due to physical restrictions.

And, more to the point of the rest of my post, no matter how many natural formations you climb, it won't make you matter in the world.

If he had not died up there, would the Tribune audience have heard of him? No, because his "success" only mattered to him. How much time and money did he pour into this pursuit? He could've made a difference to the world at large, instead of his own ego.

For instance, he could've donated money and effort into cleaning up a polluted lake or stream. He could've helped send some poor kid(s) to college. He could've invested in a new business to help provide jobs and taxes for the community. All of those things could've been an investment in the future.

Instead, he chose to invest in a dead end -- himself. That's what we're encouraged to do all the time. Self-indulgence, self-glorification and self-idolization are held up as virtues, and it's killing our future.

Even the robber barons of the past who donated to see their names up in lights managed to stroke their egos in a manner more beneficial. More people had access to books because of Carnegie. More people could experience natural history because of Marshall Field. Hospital wings were built. Parks were dedicated. These things live on after a person has died, their effects felt by more than just one person.

I'm not glorifying the robber barons. Nor am I suggesting this guy was incredibly wealthy. But he obviously had spare cash. That spare cash could've been used to invest in the future, in the world.

That's how life grows. That's how a society advances. We're going to collapse inward onto ourselves if people like this guy and those bigger and more influential fish in the pond continue to selfishly and slavishly serve their own selfish needs instead of the needs of others.

I'm not laying the blame of our society's woes at the feet of one poor guy who was only trying to bring a sense of accomplishment to his life. I'm questioning what a "sense of accomplishment" has come to mean.