Wow ! It has been a while since I blogged. I've been busy on my first Law Exams which took me out for about 3 weeks, and after that, I've been playing Dragon Age : Inquisition and trying to move into my new condominium.
It's going to be almost a year since my last pay-check and it's been quite a struggle maintaining my fiscal balance in 2014. I have to settle two semesters of fees and condominium furniture and appliances on a year of investment income and I've been barely making it with some of my counters declaring fewer dividends ( like that blasted Sabana Reit counter ) over the months ahead. But so far so good, one of the biggest benefits of law school is that I no longer have any time to enjoy the stuff that I eventually pay for so my personal expenses have dipped below $200 a week.
2015 is all about interest rates with the Fed expected to raise rates over the year. Everyone is speculating how this would impact their investments, but Im going to sit this one out as I believe that many other countries like the EU and Japan will start their own QE in the months to come.
Today I'm just going to blog on what I've been observing among my non-law school friends ( Yes, I now have two categories of friends because of social pressure to conform to law school norms of drinking and talking about cases. ). As you know, many of us are approaching our forties and I've been realising that we middle-aged uncles, having sort of found our positions in society, are starting to erect very elaborate psychological defences to cope with middle age.
One such defence is the idea that there is such a thing as a self-made man.
The idea of the self-made man comes in many forms. The "weak form" of the self-made man idea is that it is inherently more noble not to receive help if you have privileges in society. A "strong form" is that you are actually better off not receiving help even if it is normally expected that you do so because we are an Asian society because it makes you grittier and more amenable to succeed.
Personally I think that this idea is comforting because it has a hidden purpose and meaning. When faced with mid-life and mediocre life outcomes, middle aged men like myself want to create that impression that we did it the harder way. It's an act of the mythologizing the self, so that we seem more heroic in spite of our pathetically average life outcomes in our health, finances and relationships. It's also quite easy to find evidence to support this stance, there is always a wastrel in the family from the rich side of the branch who amounts to nothing ( We forget that folks who are low in conscientiousness can come from both the rich and poor branches of a family ).
I'm against such psychological defences ( I am actually not entitled to it because I grew up in a relatively ok middle class household. )
My first disagreement is that there is no nobility in mediocrity. There should be little nobility in success, if you feel morally superior, use your success to help others. No point crimping yourself and not receiving help from your rich parents when you can give so much more to the world if only you get a slight push. You might as well say that you have average outcomes because you are a good and moral person.
My second disagreement is that a gritty life is a choice. If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, it's still your prerogative to choose a harder target to meet. If you have more, you can desire to achieve more. If your peers are trying to get to a University, you can always choose to create jobs for others because you have started out with so much more. In Dragon Age III, you can choose the level of difficulty of your play experience. You can slam rich and successful people but there are those among their ranks who have created thousands of jobs today who would never apologise for using their social advantages.
My third disagreement is that even if you did not receive advantages from your family. A lot for folks are blessed if they have families which do not impose a burden upon them. You need to explain why you are mediocre when some folks who are born to gambler parents can still achieve greatness. In such a case, the psychological defence fails when someone who have less than you do, end up doing so much more.
Finally, I think folks who adopt this stance needs to ask themselves this question : If you really believe in the self-made man and that it is better not to tap your natural social and economic advantages - are you consistent with that philosophy when raising your children ?
Do you deny your children comforts, refuse to pay for tuition or even refuse to give them your personal time ? After all, if you are truly consistent, your kids will be grittier and more successful right ?
At this point, if I go further, I would just generally end up losing my friend.