Apologizing for Success


Apologizing for Success

Just a rant while sitting in my air-conditioned home watching minorities mow my lawn in 90 degree heat

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Too many wildly successful people tell us that they “worked hard” to get where they are. I’m sick of hearing that.

I am also a successful person, albeit moderately, not wildly. I had my own business which allowed us a very nice life. Two cars, a home in the suburbs on a quiet street near a lake and the center of town, enough income that we barely had to think about our spending. I did NOT work all that hard most of the time as a self-employed person. It had some challenges at times, but we were most always more than financially secure despite my wife needing to leave work early due to disability.

I do not mean that I never had to solve difficult problems or never worked an eighteen hour day. I don’t mean that I didn’t spend many hours researching and learning the ins and outs of my trade. But none that is hard work.

Digging a ditch in sub zero weather is hard work, even with power tools. Digging it in 100 degrees is even worse. Mowing lawns in 90 degree heat isn’t fun. Carrying bricks up a ladder is hard work. Working two or three jobs and still being short on your bills is hard work, physically and mentally. Being sick and still working those jobs is even worse.

I didn’t have to do any of that, despite having little formal education. I am mostly self taught, by the way. That also was relatively easy for me. It’s not something most people can do.

What made me successful was genetics, geography, and luck. Being raised by successful parents at the right place and time in history, having good health, possessing a personality that made it easy to woo clients, being able to read and absorb information quickly: without those perks and more, I’d be a different person and I’d probably be poor and struggling.

Them’s the breaks, kiddo.

Sure, it can be hard to feel empathy for people who do stupid things. You offer a homeless person food but they want cash and you can’t help but think that’s for drugs or booze. I get it. It’s frustrating and maybe you just ignore them next time — there are too many anyway. You don’t carry enough cash to help them all.

That makes you think about what would we have if we all shared equally. So you ask https://bard.google.com a question:

“If all the land and all the food and all the wealth were divided equally among the whole world, what we we each have?”

Bard thinks a moment and answers:

If all the land, food, and wealth were divided equally among the whole world, each person would have:

  • Wealth: $34,133 USD
  • Land: 0.063759 square kilometers
  • Food: 1369.86301369863 calories per day

That’s not much money. It’s a plot of land about 828 feet square which is decent, but it’s only a little more than half of the calories you consume in a day, so to hell with that idea, right?

And to hell with all the unsuccessful people. You made yours and I made mine, so it’s the Devil take the hindmost. That’s Natural Selection, baby, the Law of the Jungle, survival of the fittest. Poor people shouldn’t have so many babies. If we cut the population in half, maybe we’d all have more. No, in quarter, maybe to a hundredth. Yeah, that could work, but not this.

So you walk on by. There’s no way to save those people. Drop a dollar in the Salvation Army pot. That dollar won’t fix the world, but you feel virtuous.

Is that how you feel? I’ll guess that a lot of people do. We all — all of us who aren’t poor — certainly act that way, don’t we?

And we don’t feel particularly guilty, do we? It’s out of our hands, beyond our control, not our fault.

Let’s stop thinking about it. Somebody has to mow the lawn. I worked too hard to be doing that.

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