They Litter the Landscape

I once knew a guy who was, without question, very bright.  I respected his sharp wit and his ability to sell himself.  His attributes served him well in many ways.  He made a nice income and was able to convince people who mattered that his income was both “deserved” and inadequate.  His supporters argued he was underpaid; “he would be a bargain at twice the price!” He was especially skillful in convincing his staff, at least some of them, that he was their strongest supporter.  In my view, he saw them purely as rungs on his ladder.  If they were valuable rungs, he treated them accordingly; if they weren’t, he disposed of them as if they were sacks of trash.

His skills as an orator were extraordinary.  His remarkable dramatic skills allowed him to easily and convincingly offer believable—but utterly false—expressions of empathy, sympathy, and care.

I did not stay around him long.  My role in that environment had been sold as something it was not and something he did not intend it to be; he saw me as a potentially valuable rung on the ladder, though.  I had to get out of the poisonous atmosphere he created if I were to avoid suffocation and to escape being infected with his virulent egotism.  And so I did, though not soon enough.

When he finally marched into the sunset, long after I had gone on to other things, I gather he took with him a financial package of significant size. And, instead of using his resources to support philanthropic endeavors in his second incarnation, my understanding is that he cultivated an even more manifest lust for the toys of conspicuous consumption and a greed-fueled-lifestyle, flaunting his financial spoils. Some people fawn over it; I find it offensive and immoral.

Some people, of course, might assume from my comments that I am jealous. If that’s what they want to think, that’s fine—they would be wrong, but they are free to think it. In fact, I admire people who put their skills to good use and, as a consequence, build a solid financial base that enables them to enjoy the finer things that money can buy.  But a lifestyle so overtly dedicated to enhancing one’s own personal status and financial empire at the expense of others is offensive.  Not to mention; it suggests the person living that lie is attempting to make up for a core failing, a character flaw of enormous magnitude.

Today, as I watch in horror at the growing popularity of Donald Trump and people of his ilk, I am deeply discouraged that the spoils of self-aggrandizement and raw, heartless greed are becoming the beacon around which a growing number of Americans are gathering. Look around; you see them everywhere. I don’t want to see them in the faces of friends and family, or in the face I see in the mirror.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to They Litter the Landscape

  1. You express this so well. I agree with you about the likes of Donald Trump and have never understood how some people see that kind of person someone to admire and emulate. Guess human beings are meant to be different in so many ways that even in situations like you so effectively describe they never see the same thing you and I see.

  2. Saisoned Traveler says:

    This guys sounds familiar…

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