The privileged are hypocritical in large ways and small. Working one’s way out of that hypocrisy is no mean-feat but it’s vital if we are to have a decent society to call our own.
While I’m struck by the disregard the privileged have for the less-lucky, even more shocking perhaps is that they lambast others for reasons that more resemble themselves than those who they look down upon.
We all know that the well-subsidized and massively risk-averse Rich (the State takes on the risk, the profits go to the rich) lament the paltry subsidies that poor people get. Small children who might get a subsidized lunch or breakfast are called “free-loaders” while tax-breaks, incentives, and free use of public goods makes the rich “entrepreneurial.”
Beggars and panhandlers are said to be “faking it?” “Watch out, that person is not really as badly off or as sick as he seems” is the refrain from millionaires who can’t find a few dollars in their cavernous pockets to offer the homeless or jobless. These same millionaires give the rest of us advice like “fake it until you make it” when going to a job interview. Faking is a crime on the one hand and a virtue on the other. Not to mention the thought that if indeed someone spends hours outside- in the sun and rain- begging that it is entirely irrelevant if he is “faking it” since he clearly needs help either way.
Millionaires talk about the indolence of the poor yet flock to books like “the Four-Hour Work-Week” and are found vacationing in exotic spots.
Rich families of multiple siblings in India talk about how the poor breed like rabbits. There is a trend in India now to suggest that the “uneducated” shouldn’t vote as though somehow the educated classes have delivered political wonders to the rest of us. Not to mention the trend about the rich to avoid university (look at Bill Gates!).
The rich spend thousands of dollars at hotels and then labor over whether to tip 1 or 2 dollars to a bell-boy. They then make fun of others’ “cheapness.”
The privileged are fond of lavish spending on entertainment but believe the poor should only think about subsistence and that any spending outside of nourishment suggests how “backward” they are.
Vast swaths of the privileged believe the downtrodden are “backward” and then themselves indulge in science-denial. They remain wedded to atavism of all kinds- in rituals and religion.
The rich want the poor to do “what’s good for the country” and then indulge only in what is good for their own families. They want to see their countries “cleaned up” but then dump industrial effluents and garbage in public areas- waterways, oceans, wetlands, slums, and in poor countries.
The privileged bemoan the inefficiency of government and the poor and then bilk both for every dime they have- creating the inefficiency they claim to hate.
Executives hate unions and tenure of any sort but amongst themselves ensure jobs-for-life or at least payments-for-life in the form of golden parachutes and severance clauses.
The rich hate the “uneducated” classes then do their best to denude public education of funding and sustenance.
The lists goes on.
We privileged folk have weak constitutions and lack self-consistent morality.
We are so scared of losing our privilege that we happily become hypocrites in order to preserve it.
So who really should be the object of our hatred? It’s mirror-time for us.
Romi Mahajan is the founder of KKM Group a marketing firm, an author, an investor, and an activist. His career is a storied one, including spending 9 years at Microsoft and being the first CMO of Ascentium, an award-winning digital agency. Romi has also authored two books on marketing- the latest one can be found here . A prolific writer and speaker, Mahajan lives in Bellevue, WA, with his wife and two kids. Mahajan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, at the age of 19. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org