Ah, cheer - I'm in a blasphemous mood this morning, a bent - some might say a wicked bent - of mine.
Image pilfered from Picture Depot
Although I'm not sure that toying with a quote from a mere disciple would constitute actual blasphemy - a man can dream, though. Actually, I don't think the transgression of blasphemy is within the reach of a non-believer, though your local Fundie may disagree.
Today's sermon, this Holy Tuesday, is on Success.
As the title of this post suggests, I am conflating "money" and "success." I am not, however, doing this for the obvious reason - that money is often the preferred trophy of success in the modern greedhead mind. No, I am going to mine a bit deeper here and go after even the ephemeral successes of endeavors that ostensibly eschew the golden calf altogether - even if many of these often *cough* accidentally *cough* result in overflowing coffers.
Because, in the end, success isn't about the money. How, then, do I conflate "money" and "success" here? Well, because money isn't even about the money.
We Are Family
As primates, our particular manifestation on this planet comes with certain attributes bestowed upon us by the process of the evolutionary forces that birthed us. The one that concerns us here is our nature as social animals. While there are clearly pleasurable aspects to our socialist tendencies (I'm not making a political statement here, but I am grinning,) these pleasures would only be apparent to a social animal in the first place, so it is a bit of a tautology to assign socialization as an evolutionary "good" in and of itself. Indeed there are many manifestations of life on this biosphere that give no curtsey at all to socialization, and do quite well without it.
We Are Infantile
I submit that socialization is an artifact of the story of reproduction, as in, why are infants so damned cute?
Because they are masters of manipulation. It is an imperative bestowed upon us for purely reproductive reasons. Reproduction is a prerequisite for the very definition of life, and our nature as relatively complex beings have created a schism between the mature adult and the helpless infant, and the latter is critically dependant upon the indulgences of the former. We giggle and flirt with our parents. For reasons purely of survival, as infants we make them love us.
(Evolution, in its own charming way, has permitted other creatures to exploit this human tendency - why are doggies and kitties so damned cute?)
This primary, infantile compulsion remains with us at more or lessor degree for the remainder of our lives. There are many good things to be said about this - empathy is a tool that is created out of this need, and it is a visceral pleasure to be loved - but there is really no fundamental purpose to it, speaking in a purely stark, evolutionary, survivalist context. (Please don't think that I am in any way arguing for some sort of super-maturity that should emerge, bereft of it. I am no killjoy, for heaven's sake!)
But I will say that our adulthood, we often engage in behaviour no less repellent than that of a grown man with a diaper fetish. Such is the pursuit of "success."
We Love Attention
The guitar god on the stage. The CEO in the boardroom. The artist at her exhibition. The host at his dinner. The high-traffic blogger. (Heh.)
Success, and money, bring us attention from our fellows, and that tickles a part of us from a long time ago. It is merely fun, however, and not worthy of excessive attention. It paradoxically distracts us from being decent with each other, even as we seek favor.
It is in the awareness of this tension that maturity lies.
For it is not the pleasure we derive from the experience of success (or from the possession of money) - this is as inescapable as a mother's smile - but the regressive infantilism of its pursuit that is the root of all kinds of evil.
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.Now that's maturity!
- Bob Dylan