I don’t feel I’ve sucked the world dry, nor do I feel that in the selfish act of taking care of myself, my family and my friends, I have made anyone worse off. Quite the opposite in fact. My hard work and creativity has provided the people I have worked with and worked for with great products, great concepts and great outcomes. More money, more jobs and more success. And people have benefitted as a result. I have provided choice, quality and a better life through my actions. Marginal, I know. I’m don’t think I’m that powerful that I’ve actually generated a quantum shift in any person’s life. But if through my work and kinship I have minutely and marginally improved the lives of even ten people, then I should feel happy about myself. Was it intentional – was my aim solely to improve their lives? No, not really. It was ultimately to improve my own life. It was about being selfish in my wishes and in achieving them, improving the world around me as a result. I don’t go to bed at night thinking that my white collar career trajectory has somehow contributed to the suffering of countless African children, or the oppression of “the workers”, because despite what you’d read in countless leftist, anti-Capitalist papers, LIFE and personal happiness begets life and happiness.
Why are we made to feel guilt by some sections of the media and society for simply living a happy life? Is Michael Leunig so unhappy and ashamed of his life that he must remind us all that we should share in this guilt? That he has “seen the light” and in living, in pursuing whatever goals and aspirations we desire, that we are all bloodsuckers?
This is ultimately what the “black armband view” of Australian history tells us. That instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, we are actually standing on the heads of those around us and before us.
I’m sorry, I don’t buy that view. I follow Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill’s view – that we all in our own way pursue our own interests (whatever they may be), and in doing so enhance, enrich and build a community, a world around us. We as humans seek our own welfare and best interests. That includes a STRONG element of societal congregation, love and acceptance. We temper our extreme selfishness or greed with an understanding and compassion that we should and ultimately do think of the others around us. But we can only contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of those around us if we have invested in ourselves enough. We treat others as we would be treated, but we can only treat others in the best possible way if we ourselves understand and expect a particular level of treatment. Self respect begets respect of others. Self love begets love of others.
Yeah I’m sure there are people who are nasty, or screw others over as a point of interest (and I’m sure Russell Davies is NOT one of these people); they should atone for their sins.
However the rest of us nice people, we “unwashed masses” that the elites will tell you are unenlightened, unfulfilled and in serious need of re-education, well, we’re travelling very nicely thanks very much; loving life.