Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life Lessons from Literature, Part 1

     Many people like to think that they are better than everyone else. Humans enjoy feeling good about themselves. The problem is that we humans are all the same. The core that makes us human is the same as what makes other people human. Whether this thought has consciously entered the minds of humans or not- I'm not sure. However, humans are always looking for new ways to define themselves as better than their fellow man. Some cultures use ranks such as Baron, Earl, Duke, Lord, Sir, etc to define their rank. Other cultures it's a cast system (such as in the religion of Hindu). In America we have no titles or cast system to define or rank ourselves and our place in the world. Americans have solved this problem by granting ourselves titles such as Abercrombie, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ecko, and Prada. We wear shirts with these brand names proudly displayed across our chests. Proudly shouting to the world- I spent more money on clothes then you- therefore I have more money then you. Even though the labels might have changed- the concept of using little things (which have little to do with reality) to prove that someone is superior or inferior is a concept as old as time. A monkey in a suit is still a monkey and a productive member of society in a t-shirt is still a productive member of society. In the story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant I will examine how a person can berate, and rank themselves. How we inside the quiet and still of our mind can be our own worst bully.

     Loisel in the opening paragraph has a defeated attitude."She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known, understood, loved, wedded by any rich and distinguished man; and she let herself be married to a little clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction." The line I enjoy most is "and she let herself be married to a little clerk". To let something happen means to allow or permit, she is permitting a lower class man to marry her. No were in that phrase is a talk of happy marriage or what a wonderful man she is marrying. Brides in American culture plan and await their wedding all their lives. However, Loisel isn't awaiting the wedding- instead is permitting it, allowing it to happen- almost as if it is an unpleasant event that must be done eventually. This has nothing to do with her husband. Throughout the story the husband is an enjoyable character with great kindness toward his wife. The wife is settling for a clerk as a husband. Yet, there is no mention of her ever going wanting. She bullies herself into believing that she is being deprived of something. Even when she has a chance to mingle with the rich at a party she still finds ways to bully herself into thinking that she must be more then she is "Nothing. Only I have no dress and therefore I can't go to this ball. Give your card to some colleague whose wife is better equipped than I." She believes that she isn't capable of going to the ball. Life is hard and then you die: life is going to be hard (have its challenges and hardships) any way you look at it, so you might as well make your life what you want it to be.

     Loisel is making her life what she thinks everyone else's life is. People even today think in such a fashion. People don't understand that the wealthy and powerful hide their weaknesses and flaws because such traits are seen as weakness. Therefore, people who take what they see are fools. The only difference between a wealthy person and a poor person is that wealthy people are better at with money. Wealth is has to do your skills with money and nothing more. However, money is the currency of our lives. However, if a person is smart enough and willing to work more money can always be made. Money can't buy friendships or family- therefore it shouldn't destroy them either; however, money is the currency of our lives. Money is how we buy and trade items we need or desire. Therefore, money is a valid issue and should not be wasted or loaned out to wasteful family members.

     Loisel not only hurts herself but also her husband in the process. "They found, in a shop at the Palais Royal, a string of diamonds which seems to them exactly like the one they looked for. It was worth forty thousand francs." Loisel was so driven to be equal to the wealth and great of the Paris that she was got into a hurry and ended up losing the neckless. The amount of money that had to be paid back not only burdened her but her husband as well. A amount of that sum is a great amount on a clerk's salary and cannot be repaid quickly. She never thinks of her husband or the extra burden that her mistake has caused him. Sadly, when people believe that they are better than others the cost to the lower classes rarely matters as long as the superior group benefits. This story is true with from the Ancient Egyptians in the Bible killing the first born of every Israelite, to the French elite taxing the poor into starvation in the streets to build their palaces (this later led to the French revolution and great stories like Les Mis being told), to the first emperor of China enslaving (and almost all dying in the process) one third of the Chinese peasants to build the wall of China. This concept has been done the world over and can be found in every people group, nation, and religion. I remember one time in physics I said "wouldn't it be great if we all had the innocence of children". My physics teacher looked at me and said "sweet heart, I have seven children- if you want to see the dark side of human nature put a toy in the center of a group of children and tell them to share." I never forgot that, my teacher was completely right. If I put a toy down in the center of a group of children (anywhere in the world) and tell them to share- I will see the dark side of human nature the second the toy hits the ground. Loisel is the selfish child that never grew up. Granted, with age we don't get any less selfish only more clever in the way that we get the toy first.

     External bullying most of the time becomes internal bullying when we start believing that the people bullying us are right and we stop believing in ourselves. The interesting part of this story is that there is no sign of external bullying. All the bullying is internal- within Loisel. She believes that she deserves better then what she has. Therefore she bullies herself into putting on a facade that isn't really her- nor does her façade benefit her in any way. In the process to become better and then she is she also uses others and bring misery to people around her (her husband being the main one). No one in the story bullies her, but she becomes so obsessed with facade she has built that she internalizes her- miserable- life and begins to bully herself for not being good enough. If a person is smart, willing to learn, and work hard, then more money can always be made and our lives improved. However, in this story Loisel truly does become her own worst enemy- the bully within. She becomes her own worst bully! This is a problem the world over- in every people group, religion, and nation. We (all of humanity) cannot solve what we don't understand. Sadly sometimes the enemy that we can't see or understand is ourselves. There is so much that we humans don't understand about ourselves and the world around us. Which is why more money is not the answer to the world's problems, knowledge is the key to solving world's problems. We humans need to dive into ourselves- into the depths of our minds, our emotions, and examine the chains the tie us down. The only person we can control is ourselves, and history is filled with examples of one person changing the world, therefore we are all a powerful force in this world.

1 comment:

  1. That was inspirational Joshua thanks. I like the analogy of the brand name clothes as titles you used. I'm fairly new at blogging as well and if you would drop by