I’m having a moral dilemma. I am in M’s family’s house, which is obviously the product of a very well-off family. However, it is also the product of a very cultured family. You don’t find that combination much anymore. Which explains not only my reservations of the concept of being well-off because of its support of capitalism and oppression, but of its phony, empty, material-obsessed, and most of all ignorant lifestyle.
That’s where this begins. My initial reaction to those who have money and lots of material possessions – big house, big car(s), spiffy furniture and appliances and fine china, intercom systems, etc. – is one of… well, I don’t think disgust is a good word but it’s something very similar. It is a reservation based on my admittedly hardened beliefs regarding capitalism, consumerism, and class structure.
So when M began telling me about her home, her parents, her childhood, her lifestyle, I internally (and sometimes externally) groaned at every new fact which rolled into my head – the travels to Europe, the huge house in an affluent Massachusetts town, in the woods on a big plot of land, etc.
Thing was, she also told me of the good things that came out of this lifestyle: she was really close to her parents and especially to her sister. She was raised in a functional, stable, and loving family. She was obviously cultured, and claimed she knew how lucky she was and that she didn’t take anything for granted.
Regardless of all this, it still rubbed me the wrong way – sure, they gave some money to charities, and they raised their family right, but still they were working, living, and buying under the shelter of this society. Granted, they’re probably (blissfully) ignorant to the evils and illusions of capitalism and its vicious cycles and blah blah blah, but does that make it any more acceptable?
I am in their home right now. It is all I expected it to be – clean, ordered, littered with new expensive things and lots of them – but somehow, weaved into the fabric of this upper-class quintessence, is a very warm, homey, stable, and cultured feel… unfortunately, I am having a harder time explaining that than the former, because honestly this combination blows my mind as it appears very contradictory to itself.
But somehow it works. They listen to NPR. They go to Unitarian Church. They’re into literature and the arts, and cooking and maybe even the common good and certainly travelling for the sake of a cross-cultural experience as opposed to juts tourism and “because they can.”
What keeps popping into my head is my grandparents – however cultured they claim to be, that seems to be little more than an excuse for their extravagant lifestyle. That doesn’t make them – or anyone like them – bad people, but it creates such a deep-rooted way of being of ignorance, illusion, delusion, and ultimately perpetuating everything that is evil and corrupt in this world. Imagine that – merely by the way they live as individuals!
But the fact is, it’s the truth. And I know it, all too well. People call me opinionated; I am merely informed. Informed in ways that the general population is not. Don’t think I like this, just for a moment. I often wish for the ignorance it would take for me to be happy and content in and with this society. But it just isn’t going to happen.
So – these beliefs along with my being thrust into this household, this lifestyle, where the illusion is seemingly less of one and is certainly being used for better purposes – is where my moral dilemma lies.
Questions fill my mind: however ultimately evil, is it okay to manipulate the upper-class lifestyle to one of good – of education, culture, and stability? I keep thinking, but the good will not make a difference, not outside these people’s lives, only the corruption will.
But is that really true? Is it possible that the good can carry on? That the padded and loving home in which these children were raised will cause them to understand not only how well they have it and want to share it with the world but just how bad it is out there? They certainly have the access to those realities – what if they choose not to ignore it and choose to devote at least a portion of their lives to bettering the human condition? That, then, could very well live beyond all the evils that their support of capitalism and its minions could produce.
Not only that, but their support of the arts and culture is a huge factor in this dilemma – that of all things could very well make a difference in my beliefs. We’ve all heard of the rich and cultured peoples of yesteryear, but where have they all gone? Materialism seems to have taken the place of that. and so, when one finds such a paradigm, one is shocked – as though seeing an ancient tribe thought to be extinct.
I can’t explain it terribly well, but these are the thoughts running through my brain. It all boils down to one question: can this lifestyle lessen its evil by being used to good? The answer is still a mystery to me, but its being raised has caused a rethinking of my reality which in this case is certainly appreciated.