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Marc My Words: The enemy of success is envy

Marc My Words… 1 December 2006

Political comment
Marc Alexander

The enemy of success is disguised envy

The media is often a weapon of mass distraction. Particularly when the public are encouraged to spew their intolerance in print in the form of letters to the editor, the print equivalent of talkback or ranting on the village green. The thing about opinions is that everyone's got them and they come in all shapes and sizes. Rather than a genuine desire for information exchange, they habitually reflect some deep-seated angst caused by personal experience, particularly their own failure.

So I suppose it comes as no surprise when National's new leader, John Key, talks about his modest beginnings in a State house and being cared for by a solo mother, that some people with a borrowed axe to grind have it in for him. Never mind the fact that he chose to grab the educational opportunities when presented, or that he worked hard to achieve financial success. In the eyes of some, that disqualifies him from identifying with the kiwi underclass. Just consider the following passages from a recent scribbling in the Press last Wednesday (29/Oct/06):

It is not enough to be personable, claim a poor childhood and an "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps so you can too" philosophy. Lucky genes, lucky breaks and calculated decisions in one's life are insufficient qualification to presume to tell others in different circumstances how their lives should be.

Lucky genes? Isn't that really playing smartly or stupidly with the hand you're dealt? We call it taking stock of your talents and making the most of them. That's a choice. What about lucky breaks? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between good luck and bad luck because we don't always know the consequences. Even so, most people assess risk and take advantage of them. Again that's choice. As for calculated decisions, if we're not responsible for them then who is? Now here's the prejudiced part that says it all:

Million-dollar incomes and homes are an obscenity in this world, where so many do without while the rich and famous enjoy their life-styles.

This woman clearly hates wealth, perhaps because she has none and is envious, or, sees living well as inherently evil. I wonder if she balks at paying for comfortable shoes that line the pockets of the designer or refuses medicines because the shareholders that brought it to the market might financially benefit too much for her tastes.

So for Diana Bradley in St Albans (and many like her), I suppose it would be preferable to either have a 'failure' potentially in charge of our nation, or, someone who will forcibly prevent anyone from amassing any signs of wealth in case they may actually benefit from their own efforts. Come to think of it… that sounds suspiciously like the present Labour leadership does it not?

Silly me, I would have thought that someone who has achieved in life would be the perfect role model. That to lead by example is the best insurance for having someone sympathetic to those he could most help. Isn't that better than someone who didn't have any life outside the confines of school, university and politics like Clark, Cullen and most of the tiresome lot in the Labour camp? All they prove is that experience isn't necessary. That to succeed in politics all you have to do is rise above your principles.

Key isn't a millionaire because he burgled his way to the top. If he had, then the Diana Bradley's of this world would no doubt reward him with counseling, free housing and a network of support groups paid for by those who achieve legally. How the hell would that be fair?

Some people are never happy until they tear down everyone else who is. So john key has $50 million? Good for him. I bet he earned every cent by giving up weekends with his family, working long hours, and handling all the stress that goes with it. I hope he and his deserving family enjoys it now. He embodies the can-do spirit that we need to see more of encouraged in our schools and communities.

Success can be measured in as many ways as there are people. What is an achievement for one is burdensome for another. Whether each of us defines accomplishment by the sport we play, the quality of our relationships, hobbies or through work, it does no good to diminish them in others by the assertion of our prejudices. Everyone is capable of success. Not necessarily the same success, but success nevertheless. All we need is the will to achieve, and the freedom to enjoy the results. The trouble is most people can't wait for success so they go on without it. And that’s the real shame.


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