Last week I wrote about some philosophers who were concerned with the unfair advantage enjoyed by children in loving families. What I didn’t mention at the time was that once, when I was on a messageboard back in the late 1990s, I was subject to an insult that has stuck with me for the rest of my life because of it’s incredible oddness. I was accused of being “emotionally spoiled.” As far as I can tell, this is an innovative way to call someone well-adjusted when you’re angry at them.
In any case, it reminded me of this amusing post from Jr. Ganymede:
I have this friend who is always exercising and carefully watching what she eats. She won’t even go into a McDonald’s, because she says its just not the right environment for what she’s trying to do. So restrictive!
Yeah, she’s fit, superficially. But it’s not true fitness. It’s naive fitness. It’s sheltered fitness. True fitness is when you stop living in some “exercise and nutrition” bubble and you go pork out on your couch in the real world.
Or, if you prefer the classics, there’s C. S. Lewis:
A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.
Of course these two ideas–growing up in a good family and thus being “emotionally spoiled” on the one hand and avoiding temptation on the other–are very different. I get no credit for the circumstances of my home life and I’m not claiming to be a good person. But there is an important similarity: and that is that the world has ways of sneering at things that are beautiful and trying to make you feel ashamed for liking them. You grew up in a good family? Then you’re the beneficiary or privilege and unfair advantage. You’re basically cheating at life. You’re trying hard to avoid temptation and follow rules? Then you’re shallow and superficial.
Don’t let the world confuse you.
Don’t let them get you to trade your heroes for ghosts. Don’t give up trees for hot ashes. Don’t exchange your walk on part in a war for the lead role in a cage.
Don’t let anyone tell you that darkness is light and that light is darkness. Don’t forget the difference between the bitter and the sweet.1
Never forget, there are four lights.
But sometimes we do forget. Sometimes we make the trade.
When that happens, try to remember one more thing about bad deals: “Ye have sold yourselves for naught, and ye shall be redeemed without money.”2