Monday, July 16, 2012

Does Your Success Say Something About Your Character?

This poster is aimed at children who are just learning about character and good behaviour. They don't yet have experience with situations where being generous, loyal, patient, yielding etc. can lead to negative consequences. These are great personal qualities and everyone struggles with upholding them. These are all ways to be a "good person" who would make a good friend, coworker, or romantic partner.
Repeatedly online I have read comments from men stating women should ONLY consider a man's character when looking for a partner and not their education, job, or socioeconomic status (SES). I'm assuming by character they mean whether someone is kind, loving, nice, honest, "a good man", dependable, faithful, pleasant, supportive, fun, friendly, marriage-oriented and other good things that would him pleasant to be around. Some have gone so far as to suggest women should not care about a man's criminal background or past drug use because "everyone makes mistakes", we "shouldn't judge", and "life is hard" (but doesn't past involvement in crime indicate the man may be dishonest, uncaring, selfish, violent, undisciplined, and immoral?). These men insist that educational attainment should not be used as criteria when deciding to date a man and they love to say they are highly intelligent (with no proof), they know very intelligent uneducated people, and they know educated people who are complete morons with no common sense. They also insist that what a man is doing at the moment (even though he's over 30) should not be used as criteria because he may have some mysterious "potential" that will become activated if I love and support him!  

Some of these men seem to make the assumption that those who have struggled have better character than those who are successful and may not have strrugled at all! I do not understand where they would get such an idea. Since when does having constant stress, frequent problems, and being mistreated your whole life make you a happy, kind, responsible, and caring person? Wouldn't it be more likely that a man who grew up loved (knows what love is and how to show it), in a nurturing and supportive environment, with positive role models (who he emulates), would lead a happier life? Would he have a more positive and optimistic attitude, the means, and the ambition to seek out happiness and privileges that he can share with a family? If life wasn't easier with less stress, fewer problems, and better opportunities then why are people constantly striving for those things instead of the opposite? Of course people who are successful and privileged can be jerks and totally unpleasant to be around...but so can anyone of any level of education, success, or SES! At least they have their basic needs met and can provide that support when necessary!

I believe that your personal success can say a lot about your character and background. Based on what you have achieved in life people may make certain positive assumptions about you such as: you are hardworking, dedicated, intelligent, and ambitious because you achieved so much; you had a good upbringing, a privileged background, a good education, and experienced few difficulties growing up; you have good social skills and were able to network and gain support from influential people who helped you along the way; you have excellent stress management and coping skills; you were never involved in crime or drugs that would have led you astray and prevented you from achieving your goals; and you are probably good at making the right decisions and making better choices because you chose the path to success. Most people wish they grew up the same way.

Men who have been unsuccessful in life may be assumed (sometimes unfairly) to be of poor character or upbringing, for instance assuming: they grew up in a negative home and social environment, did not have their basic needs met, grew up disadvantaged, and did not have the opportunity to succeed; they may be poor decision makers because they chose crime over education and hard work; they may have attended a bad school, be less intelligent, chose not to strive for the best grades in school, or they were otherwise distracted or prevented from achieving in school; they may lack focus or they may have chosen an unrealistic route to success (e.g., becoming a basketball star or a rapper) instead of a white collar position requiring a university degree; they wanted fast money and to be extremely wealthy instead of middle class; they did not have the discipline to do well in school so they were not accepted to university; they spent too much time focused on chasing women or hanging out with friends instead of focusing on school or advancing at work; they may go from job to job starting at the bottom every time because they do not have specialized training.

People say that money doesn't buy happiness, but realistically, neither does love. Someone with money may be used, disrespected, stressed, and unloved but so can someone without money! A person with love can struggle to make ends meet, end up in a homeless shelter, be abused, and end up in a life of crime because they could not pay for necessities. The number one cause of divorce is finances (source 1, source 2; alternative view 1, view 2)! It is difficult to stay together as a couple of you can not afford to live together and raise a family. Financial problems can cause constant stress and arguments because basic needs are not being met so no one is satisfied. It's a lofty dream that one only needs love to survive but if we are honest, we know that is not true. Wealthy people do get divorced and they may be unhappy at times, but they don't end up homeless and they rarely need to commit crimes to make ends meet (when they do commit white collar crimes it's often because they were too greedy, made poor decisions, and didn't want to lose their high standard of living). 

No money does not buy love but it buys: food (especially healthy food), shelter in a safe neighbourhood (with a home security system), clothing (including suitable work attire), transportation (especially to work and school), books to expand one's mind and learn, internet (for education, entertainment, convenient shopping, and communication), telephones/cell phones (for socializing, work, communication), medical expenses, childcare, tutors, university tuition, vacations to relax and travel, unique experiences (e.g., unpaid internships, workshops, camps), investments to expand one's income, insurance, savings for the future or a rainy day, emergency money to help friends and family, and counselling for personal and family problems. Just looking at today's economy, stating that money is not important is ludicrous! Look at how losing a job has ruined people's lives because they lose their homes, cars, and sometimes their children just because they don't have the money to provide basic necessities!

I'll end with this point, I would rather date and marry a man with good character AND an education, a white collar job, and a medium SES than a man with good character, no secondary education, and a low-paying job. I think that the former would be better able to care for a family's basic needs and privileges and would be more pleasant to be around, especially because he would be more like me.  If you are like me then there are people out there who will automatically dislike you because of your privilege (but wish it for themselves) and call you every bad name in the book because you are not miserable and struggling. All you can do is go about your business and try to find happiness however you see fit. We can only date so many men and only marry one and who you choose is your business. It's one thing to be friendly, respect, care about, or be kind to a wide variety of people, but that doesn't mean you have to date anyone who asks! If you spend too much time dating men with problems you will miss out on the ones without those problems! In the end, if you make good choices then you will have plenty of proof that you were successful, happy, and loved and that is all that matters!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your point in the last paragraph...The custodian at my job tried his best to court me (flowers, candy, cards, and other nice little gifts that made me smile) even though we were clearly not on the same "level". I felt bad at first for not wanting to date a custodian and not give a "hard-working, blue collar brother" a chance, but in the end I felt that it was okay to
    NOT want to date just anybody just because I'm supposed to be a "desperate single black woman" over 30.