On pretensions

The pauper has no use for pretensions. Pretensions do not put food on the table. Princes, however, live by their pretensions–posturing is their bread and their water, and they never give impression of their weaknesses. Yet both these have the same end: they must both die, and few (if any) will remember their names once a generation has passed.

Yet even their days while living are hardly different. They both shit in the morning. They both need to eat and drink or else starve. Both must have love and companionship. When sick, they need medicine. Though the prince has easier access to these things, does this make him better? You treat him as though he is, and his pretensions would have you believe he is the one to be emulated and not the poor man, for there is a veneer of sophistication and wisdom to his success. But consider what the poor man possesses that is of greater value than the rich man:

  • Humility, for there is no pride to be found in asking others for the basics of life
  • Simplicity of purpose, for there is one goal: to survive
  • Knowledge of the fundamental, for he lives at the very edge of a precipice and any day could be his last, yet somehow he survives with the utmost minimum
  • Awareness of himself, for he now knows the limits of his strength in a way that no one who has not been tried and tested can

Insofar as the rich man is human, he too does and knows these things to some small degree. Insofar as he is a good human, he lives by the same principles. But it is a sad fate that many who are wealthy (you too, who are well off but not rich) deride the simplicity of the poor person’s life, the wisdom that comes from knowing what is essential and what is not. Rather, the moneyed spend their time and wealth in a never-ending game of pretensions: now this one is better, now that one is superior–and now look who has the most expensive watch! Is this what you seek to emulate?

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