Many believe in the perfect lives of those perceived to be at the top live perfect, effortless lives. The top 1%.
Bystanders have a tendency to equate monetary wealth, good looks, good connections, and charisma with “happily ever after”. Many of these observers would deny that there is any disadvantage to holding a position at the summit of the pedestal.
The so-called height of fortune is hard to attain and even harder to maintain. Standing on a metaphorical spike is no easy matter. If the wind blows the wrong way, oops! You are reduced to a lower level in the totem pole of importance.
What exacerbates this situation and makes it even more absurd, is that the sense of entitlement carried by such individuals serves to convince many that they can really do anything and still avoid suffering negative consequences.
This attitude puts one in mind of Oedipus by Sophocles. In the telling of this ancient play, Oedipus, the king, inadvertently, kills his father and marries his mother. As King, Oedipus had great power, only subdued by various gods and goddesses at will. When Oedipus discovered what he had done he was so disturbed that he gouged out his own eyes. An archaic warning to future generations to avoid hubris (pretension) or face the consequences, perhaps?
Those who embrace the concept of their own invulnerability tend to avoid warning signals that foretell a possible fall from heights. Eventually, a fair number of these individuals topple, and land in humiliation.
The de-throning of Harvey Weinstein, a powerful Hollywood producer for example, became a globally broadcast event. Weinstein successfully bullied “inferiors” for over forty years. The damage that he left behind was extensive. One, alleged, story has been repeated about Weinstein’s mistreatment of a woman who had total night blindness. When this actress refused to allow him to ogle her breasts he led her to an unlighted stairway, told her to find her own way home. He then locked the door.
Weinstein’s inability to feel compassion caught up with him. He lost his business, his then-wife, the children from that marriage, his powerful image, and a slew of money in the course of legal proceedings against him. The case continues, with many other grievances lined up to demand justice.
Others who believed they were above it all include: Lance Armstrong, George Custer, and Roseanne Barr. Some say it was karma, others believe that unmerited self-esteem always leads to ruin. Whatever the cause, it has ended badly for these and a host of other expatriates from fame and fortune.
There is a truism: “under the arrogance lies the shame”. Extreme braggarts must constantly monitor their social status. They are, usually, unable to sustain intimate relationships. If an individual attempts to hide his/her normal human flaws, that person has placed a mask over his/her real self. Exaggerated shame lies beneath the masquerade. Unless the mask is discarded, that forsaken individual will never experience the balm of being loved, “warts, pimples, and all” It is a lonely existence when one is afraid or unable to be genuine.
In the United States there remains a distinction between “white collar” and “blue collar”. In fact, the terms are anachronistic. It is more likely to hear about the top 1% and everybody else. No one seems to be quite sure whether or not the “middle class” is still around. The pandemic of 2020 liquidated once-healthy savings accounts. It would appear that those at the top economically prospered, i.e. Amazon and to-date uncounted numbers of the majority have lost homes, jobs, other resources.
The “white collar” vs “blue collar” distinction was a reflection of an elitist mindset. The actuality remains that societies worldwide rate others in terms of prestige, as they deny the reality of an airtight caste system. All of this, in the United States, is based, primarily, on wealth and, somewhat, on fame.
The so-called “white collars” cling to the belief that they are special — entitled to advantages that are unavailable to the “masses”. The tendency is to become so over-confident that they believe they are above the rules and law. Although history has documented the fall of moguls, these individuals refuse to acknowledge their vulnerability. Does anyone remember Watergate?
This picture, however, can be altered. When (if) extensive numbers of individuals refuse to worship the proverbial golden calf, the playing field will level out. Yes, money can buy advanced medical care. Just because a procedure is popular and/or “revolutionary” does not mean it is the best way to go. Questions surround the use of stents for heart ailments that are not, apparently, life threatening. Removing both breasts in certain cases where only one breast contains cancerous tissue is not always the best way to go.
The saying, “You get what you pay for” does not always prove to be correct. Not every automobile, home, collection of jewels and art turn out to be superior simply because they are more expensive. From expensive mascara, to “branded” clothing, which will quickly become outdated, to diamonds, to paintings — depending on the amount of the investment, one should become knowledgable before doling out the cash. Just because an individual can purchase care or goods, is no guarantee that what is being acquired is worth the cost. The expensive wedding that you can ill afford has a limited life expectancy in terms of status. Try to remember it does not take brains, talent, or taste to buy a Rolls Royce.
When the rank and file really “get” it that just because something appears to be superior does not mean that it is, any number of crowned heads just may lose certain advantages. As a rule, unless power is granted, it does not exist. Just ask any parent of a rebellious adolescent.
Prestige is a slippery slope — hey there Andrew Cuomo! Today’s hero may well become tomorrow’s buffoon. On the other hand, humility, patience, kindness, benevolence, and generosity will carry you a long way.
The “trick”, which is not a trick at all, is to live up to your personal standards. Self-respect and confidence go a long way. Give it a try.
“Hubris” literary devices.net
Jackson, C. (02/02/2019) “Pushed Off The Pedestal” thecreative.cafe
Rangeley, S.”5 Ways to Stop Putting People on a Pedestal” shessoseasonal.com
Von Iderstein, C. (04/26/2018) “The Problem With Putting People on Pedestals” medium.com
Warren, K. (05/21/2019) “Here’s a Scientific Explanation For Why Rich People Think They’re Better Than Everyone” business insider.com
Zehner,J. (03/08/2019) “Is Anyone Untouchable?” Untouchable (documentary)