I have many smart conservative friends who take pride in two things in their lives: Having a mainstream, corporate job, and raising their children well. When we have conversations about life’s meaning, however, where I commonly express my belief that literature and art and history are the true pursuits in life, and that the corporate life is empty1, they usually agree.
Sometimes this takes prodding, and other times it’s more like, “I’ve been thinking the same exact thing.”
Upon realizing (and admitting to themselves and to me) that their jobs are essentially meaningless attempts to help companies with billions make millions in exchange for thousands, they immediately turn to a timeless fallback defense:
You’re right; it is meaningless. But I have my kids. I will keep going to the mines as long as it ensures my kids will have a good life.
That’s where the mistake is made. And it has to stop.
We just got done agreeing that the corporate, materialistic life is meaningless, yet what this person really just said was that his mission in life was to ensure that his kids will be able to take the same exact path he did.
He’s manufacturing unhappiness in his own children, and he’s doing it so that they’ll be happy. Let’s review the plan:
- Get good grades growing up
- Get into a decent college
- Pick a career
- Get a “good” job
Of course, “good” means respected by peers (who also went to college and also have parents who worked the corporate life)–i.e. a high-paying job that revolves around making large sums of money.
In short, parents in the corporate world who hate their vapid lives cannot take solace in the fact that they have children unless their lesson to those children is to not repeat their mistake. Anything else is a propagation of a quiet, shameful suffering. ::
1 I’m a corporate guy myself, so this is me throwing rocks at a glass house both my friends and I live in. The difference is only that I don’t have kids that I’m encouraging to come live with us in the glass house.