Let Us Stay Proud of Those Who Have
LC Van Savage
Let Us Stay Proud of Those Who Have
Let me ask you a couple of things. No one will hear your answers, so just tell the absolute truth, no matter how bad or good it might make you feel. Here goes: are you pleased that Martha Stewart got that jail sentence? Do you think she deserved it? And, most importantly, if you’re angry with Ms. Stewart and happy to see her going down, is it because she broke the law, or is it because she became so wealthy?
I’ll wager many Americans are ticked at her because she became wealthy. Let’s get serious here. It’s common knowledge that all of us cheer the up-and-comings, boost them along, pray for their success, admire their tenacity and cheer them hard when they finally grab that top rung. Oh, how proud we all are for supporting struggling, hard-working persons who made the American dream happen.
Alas, the ones living that successful American Dream of course soon become the focal points of nation-wide dodgeball---they are kicked and slammed down hard from the peak they struggled so hard to attain. We simply cannot stand to see a person succeed. We pretend we’re thrilled but we’re not. We cheer the succeeders happily but in our hearts we curse them. They are rich now and we’re not, and it’s just not fair. So we begin to badmouth and turn away from them, to pull them off their pedestals, even if they themselves built those pedestals with their own bloodied hands.
I would suggest that many of those who are high-mindedly and vocally pleased that Ms. Stewart will be cooling her heels in grey-on-grey for five months because she broke the law, are not so much pleased that justice was served, but happy she got busted because she’s loaded. Be honest. Many of us are secretly delighted she’s getting her come-uppance because she made an impossibly huge pile of the long green. No matter that she worked indescribably hard for years to earn it; no, she must be punished because she did.
I’ll never forget sitting with an author friend of mine named “Roberta,” a woman who’s worked incredibly hard all her adult life to be a successful writer but who has enjoyed only modest success. She struggles constantly to make money from her writing but never makes much. We were chatting with another writer who knew Stephen King well, and we all spoke of the horrible, disfiguring accident King had just suffered through, and what an incredibly long road to recovery he’d have to endure. Roberta sat there listening and suddenly said, “Well, I sure hope this is a wake-up call for him, don’t you?” I said “A WHAT???” Roberta said, “Sure, this’ll bring him down a peg or two. He’s just gone a little too Hollywood on us, don’t you think?” I was stunned into complete silence.
“Roberta,” I finally said. “You’re not serious. King’s donated tons of money to different Maine organizations and causes. What on earth are you talking about?”
“Well,” she said, “maybe now he won’t act like such a bigshot.”
“He doesn’t do that,” I said. “So Roberta, you’re saying that if the boys in Hollywood came knocking on your door wanting to make multi-million dollar films of your books you’d just say, ‘Sorry guys, but I’d rather stay here in Maine and live in poverty and not be a bigshot’”? Astonishingly, she answered, “I most certainly would.” Yeah. Right.
There’s another example of my treatise. Stephen King has worked incredibly hard to earn his deserved success whether you enjoy his books or not, and the Robertas out there who aren’t particularly successful with their writing careers but who cheered King lustily along the way with their, “Do it for all of us!!” shouts, now want him kicked hard to the curb for making pots of money. He must go down.
So? What’s your answer?