There are online posts of a specific genre that pop up like toadstools, the logic of which goes something like this:
"What? This person just spent (X dollars) on (Y item or activity) when there are (starving/dying/whatever people because of Z travesty) going on in (his/her) (country, neighborhood, state)?! That is disgraceful!"
Today I ran into one of these outbursts following someone's blog post about a Missouri woman buying 10,000 dollars worth of designer shoes, all at once, from an online store. One of the subsequent blog comments, predictably, opined it was disgraceful because of all the homeless tornado victims in Missouri. Actually, I take it back. She said it was eff-ing disgraceful.
Maybe it's because I'm having a terrible week, preparing to help the passing of my ailing geriatric cat who is very dear to me. Maybe it's because I read this kind of mindless Marxist crap every day and take it on the chin. For whatever reason, I got really hot about it and gave her a news flash:
OK, so it sounds excessive. But I would caution against making that kind of leap of logic. There are several things we can say about that. First of all, how would you know if this woman helped her homeless neighbors or not? The answer is, you don't. For all you know, she pays more a year in taxes than my annual income, and just wrote a 50,000 dollar check to the Red Cross. Maybe she's been saving for years for a fantasy shopping spree. Maybe she has cancer. How the hell would you know? I'll bet you have more than one person in your town who's out on the street right now. But you're online on a computer, probably with a new flatscreen monitor, reading about shoes, and an iPhone in your purse and drycleaning to pick up. Who is to say you shouldn't live like you do, knowing there's even one starving person out there somewhere? Is that a "f--king" disgrace too? Same idea, different strata-- and it would be ridiculous to proclaim any assumptions or call you out. More importantly, it's wrong.
Are you willing to insist we all live by the statist rule your snide comment implies? Or just some people? And then who gets to decide and enforce that? Fifty years of USSR misery gives us a pretty good answer to how well that works.
PS By the way, since your comment infers resentment to those with discretionary income, I've never known a person with a high income who didn't make large contributions to charities on a regular basis. They may not issue press releases when they do it like moviestars do, but they definitely give back. Sorry, but holier-than-thou just isn't going to cut it.
Congratulations to the royal couple. It was wonderful to see this old tradition come to life, an especially delightful event given the understated grace exhibited by the wedding party. I wish these young people long life and happiness together.
All the best to Catherine and William.
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To those simple-minded people wringing their hands and wailing in chat rooms that the wedding money should have been spent on the poor instead:
Stop what you're doing, sell your computer, and give all the money directly to the next poor person you encounter.
Poetry, drama, film, art—it just feels bigger and more powerful, and tons more rattles around in it. Fireworks go off in all that space, everything bounces off everything else. Liberal thinking has its roots in the arts, in feeling, in the idea of poetic inexactness, an expansive anything-is-possible-and-should-be-ness. It jumps tracks without consequence; it’s arguments go in big lazy worm Ouroboros circles and protagonists battle to the death with men of straw. It laughs at anything so small and constrained as a carefully constructed argument.
It’s the difference between giving the molecular structure of water, and writing a haiku about it. Because the haiku is poetic it feels more profound; all that allegorical space gives you room to fill in the blanks and conclude it’s the most truthful crazy genius stuff you’ve ever heard.