It’s funny, when I was brought up, both my parents and my school and books and TV; everything around me tried to teach me the virtues of life. Do not murder, do not steal, do not covet thine neighbours wife. People told me to be good, to live a good life, to do good things, to strive for justice. The funny thing is that as an adult, I have to say that none of the people who followed that advice turned out to be successful in life (by society’s standards; monetary wealth and outward happiness). Those who are most successful are more often than not criminals, who routinely break the judicial laws of society. Successful people are often sociopaths that have little regard or respect for other humans. If you look at who becomes a boss of a company, it’s not the good guy that everyone likes; it’s the psychopath that does whatever it takes to get what they want.
Having a son of my own makes me think of these things. Should I really teach him to do good things, knowing that he will probably live his life at a disadvantage compared to others?
I always had the dream of setting up my own society. It would start as a company, and then I would hire just the right people, to build up an organization with good guys. It would be a work place where people had fun, and where people got support if they were having a hard time. It would not be a capitalistic blood sucker that brainwashes people into quiet submission. However, even in running a company, which I have now tried two times, I find that my honesty stands in my way. People are not used to someone telling the truth; in fact I find that people are so used to being lied to that they prefer to deal with liars. So my own dream of working my way up to my own perfect little world has always remained a dream.
So what do I tell my son? Should I try to sponsor him to follow my own dream? Or should I embrace the cynic and tell him that you need to be hard and ruthless to get ahead, and then after having stolen and pillaged your way to a good position only then can you consider to possibility of doing some good? Maybe it is weird to wrestle with such thoughts. Perhaps it is a remnant of my Christian upbringing. But I really find this difficult to deal with; wanting to live a moral life and wanting that for my son as well, but also wanting my son to live a prosperous life with all his needs fulfilled. It is difficult for me to see how anyone could have both.
Is a good upbringing the path that leads to a prosperous life? Or is the good upbringing the path that leads to good morals and virtues? Should I work for my son to find the simple pleasures first of money and social standing, and only later go after the higher pleasures of peace of mind and internal joy? Or should I work for my son to go for the higher pleasures first, knowing that he will in all likelihood miss out on more simple pleasures like never having to wonder if you are able to pay all bills this month? It really doesn’t feel like an easy choice to make.