|Diogenes by John William Waterhouse|
“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” - Matthew 19:24
Do you wish to know the shortcut on the path to leading a Virtuous life? Take all your unnecessary shit – all the things you don't need, and which do not allow you to lead a self-sufficient life – and burn it. Burn your home to the ground and buy a large car and live in it. Do not attempt to gain money, power, or status. Devote yourself instead to knowledge and self-knowledge, and thus you will enter into the domain of Truth and live a life of virtue.
While it is true that it is virtuous and possible to accumulate wealth to benefit one's fellows – it is also true that this is also a lie many tell themselves to justify their actions, or their participation in a morally bankrupt system of thought. So many devote themselves to the ideas of their nation that they ignore the terrible reality around them, and instead choose to see their actions through rose colored glasses. They are lying to themselves. Wealth can be a trap, in which the belief is that the accumulation of it will lead to happiness, while in reality the person is miring themselves in a morally bankrupt system and choosing to instead value general economy over, say, his fellow man. This is the right of any individual to do: and many will. It is not, however, virtuous.
Many believe that power and status will allow them to live happily. They, too, lie to themselves. Those who wish for power will never love or treat their fellows as if they have worth – unless they have something to gain from that person. And therefore to seek power from the supposedly “Powerful” (which are but wordly individuals) is to mire oneself in the traps of politics and public opinion. All too quickly that power – so forcefully fought for – will suddenly vanish if one does not become, in reality, a Tyrant and instead expects the general goodwill or love of others.
To be a celebrity remains the desire of all too many, despite the fact that our “Stars” are in fact unhappy, pitiful, crippled things that we jeer and poke at. There is no quicker way to lose all sense of self and love for life than to become a part of the public spectacle, the terrible Fool who is ever-present.
To live a life of virtue is an act of courage – and it is not in accord with the laws of the land when they are unjust, nor with the notions of those around living around one. One is not allowed to pretend that shallow ideals will simply be enacted, nor is one allowed to pretend that one is holy or better than anyone else. To live this way is to serve oneself, above the notions of those around one, and to be subject to their derision.
There are no rewards for such a choice, except knowing that you abided by your code and refused to be drawn into systems which you object to. There is no good karma for this: you will suffer as others suffer, and face problems which others will not have to face. That is why so few manage to act this way; and that is why there is so little virtue in the world around us.
In the end, the easier choice is to follow along blindly, and to believe that Power, Privilege, Titles, Fame or Wealth will make you Happy. And perhaps it is possible to be happy in such a state. But it is not, nor has it even been, virtuous.
And for those who wish to deceive themselves on this matter, there is nothing but contempt.
Edit: I do not wish to sound as if I am proselytizing, because I am not. The above is an intentionally constructed extreme of the Cynical philosophy, not by any means something most – if anyone – actually manages to do. The path of cynical thought is to spend one's life disentangling the value judgments that society places on status symbols versus what is actually of worth, and allows for virtue. In this case the primary prizes are knowledge (which can be used any time, any where, and passed along) and self-knowledge (which is used to help disentangle ourselves at the places where are hard to deal with.
The biggest thing I wish to make clear is that acting on this line of thought may very well be highly praised in some eyes, many find it pointless. It neither satiates their personal desire (which some of us find pointless), nor does it give them any visible reward. This is why almost no one acts in such a fashion. Chasing wealth leads to a visible reward, but will always come at the cost of greed. Every time you engage in the process of working to facilitate and maintain wealth, you will run the risk of being greedy. So, while I do think it's a great thing that certain folks are getting their message out there about being a King, and serving your community by being prepared to part with the wealth you've worked for when the time is right – I feel compelled to note that this comes at a higher risk than, say, spurning wealth all together and focusing on other things. Which is not to say that spurning wealth and luxuries is by any means easy.
It is harder to do right by your fellow wo/man when you are consumed by greed, or envy (by far) than it is to simply give up what is necessary to maintain the state you wish.
Enough barking. I'm done for the night.