All The Money In The World

The other week I saw the movie All The Money In The World, a pretty good fictionalization of the very weird story around J. Paul Getty III's kidnapping and ransom. Old Man Getty didn't want to pay the $17 million ransom for his grandson's life, because, as he rationalized, all his other kids would become fair game, too. As depicted in the film, he values things, not people, because people are fickle and not trustworthy, and his love for his children appears to have been conditional on them eventually becoming clones of him — in other words, not people, but things as well. But at the end of the movie he's alone in a houseful of paintings that don't talk back and manservants who only speak when spoken to, and then only to give him what he wants.

We talk all the time about how money can't buy this or that spiritual condition. What it does buy, as far as anything that can be called spiritual goes, is stability. It can buy you a place where you can shut the door and not be hassled; it can buy you the ability to not starve or die of preventable diseases. It gets you a level or two up on Maslow's hierarchy. You can do a lot with such a foundation, because many people don't even have that much. But all the rest of it is up to you.

I get the impression the reason some wealthy or famous people are such miserable sacks of crap is because they never knew how to go from having the stability to doing anything really constructive with it. The Getty depicted in the film has no real idea what to do with his money except sit on it and maybe do more expensive versions of the same unimaginative things he's always done. (As much as I despise Elon Musk as a person, at least he has some manner of vision.)

I once read that a fair percentage of lottery winners — and we're talking people who won hundreds of millions of bucks — end up bankrupt a few years after winning. They blow it on the ponies or in Vegas, or get tricked out of it, or do any number of other stupid things. I feel bad for them, because in some ways they never had a chance. Many of them are folks who never had much in the way of money to begin with, let alone the stability even a reasonable income provides, and so when they're flooded with it, they have no idea what to do next except drown.

Sometimes I think the only thing wealth gives some people is an easier way to build their own private hell, one they've been constructing all along. But that's a truism: it's something we all "know", but don't really care enough about to fix in the real world, because wouldn't you want to be a millionaire? Sure you would, because you wouldn't be stupid with all that money like some other people. (That literally every other person on the face of the earth would think about it that way too goes undiscussed.)

"What do you really want?" is the single hardest question any of us has to answer, because we live in a world that by and large keeps us in a perpetual state of frustration by tempting us with things we don't really need. That clouds our minds in ways we scarcely notice and are ill-equipped to counteract.

Tags: spirituality  wealth 

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2020/05/26 08:00.

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