This just dawned on me. In the Russian culture, there is a certain resentment of anybody who sticks out. It might be the reason I moved. The idea is that life sucks, and anybody who is happy or exceptionally successful – while others are poor or miserable – is an arsehole. Of course, a part of the reason is that the original source of great wealth is often corruption or crime, that is also true.
In the classic American culture, there is a certain resentment of anybody who is relaxed, especially when the relaxed person is poor yet somehow expects dignity and support. Rat race is sacred. Poor people are supposed to be extra humble and driven by the desire to become rich, or else they defy the purpose of America. There is deification of ’hard work,’ much like back home, but with an ‘individualism’ tag attached to it . ‘Hard work’ interpreted in a religious way, makes one a better person, and suffering of the poor is educational. In terms of social importance, one is treated as a minor until one ‘makes it.’
It is very fascinating to me. Those two kinds of resentment seem like they are opposite of each other but are twins, two sides of the same coin. In both cases, there is a resentment of being your own free spirit living in perpetual wonder of the world’s beauty.
I believe that in a normal state of human being (something that is not encouraged by either system, even though individual people definitely find ways to be true regardless of the environment), every second of life is art, and work is generally joyous because it is creative. Of course, work is work, and sometimes it is easy and sometimes it’s not but there is no goal whatsoever of suffering, and no pride in being a part of the rat race. Freedom is freedom. When people are free and generally creative, helping the ones in need is a normal thing to do.
In both cases, the person who is talking always wants to fix others via subjugation, yelling, and unification. It is a sin to think or be different, have different priorities or goals. In one case, you have to be a hard-working and selfless ant and sacrifice your joy to the benefit of ‘all’, and in the other case you have to be a hard-working and somewhat selfish ant until you reach the top of the hill. And then you can puff your cheeks and be proud.
Living life as art and expecting respect because it’s just normal (regardless of whether you are rich or poor) is not necessarily a part of either model. Strange creatures, we are.
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