Everyone thinks life is one upward, smooth trajectory.  They think of Cinderella in her big castle and forget that she spent decades scrubbing floors, being beaten, and locked in a cold room.  Between “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after” a lot happens.  Not all of it is good.

– Joshua Kennon

Cinderella Castle

  • Frat Man

    Great post. Here’s my attempt at a mailbag question:

    “During the BP oil spill and its aftermath, was it more moral or less moral to purchase gas from a BP outlet?”

    First of all, I understand that a lot of franchisees own BP gas stations, so BP wouldn’t even feel the effect of a protest (in fact, it’s almost impossible to protest a gas company specifically these days), but for the sake of this question, let’s assume that BP itself is the gas stations. I argued (and disagreed with almost all of my friends) that it was more moral to buy from BP. If BP received a $20 billion fine to pay to the victims, they would need that money to come from somewhere (i.e. selling gas). If BP makes no money, they can’t pay off their obligations. Socrates, when asked whether littering was moral or immoral, taught us to use this back-of-the-envelope method, “Would the world be a better or worse place if everyone engaged in activity x?” Obviously, if everyone dumped truckloads of litter in the streets, the world would be a worse place. Likewise, if absolutely everyone boycotted BP, the world would be a worse place because the settlement couldn’t be paid. It’s kind of like when people complain and moan about ‘Big Oil,’ even though it’s probably been the backbone of their index fund’s positive return this decade…Anyway, what’s your take?

  • Gilvus

    But “happily ever after” only came when someone came and simply handed it to Cinderella…

    • Joshua Kennon

      True. Cinderella may not be the best example but history isn’t full of many stories of women storming the castle, beheading the tyrant and taking the throne for themselves 😉

  • Rajat

    “Happy Ever After” came because you decided to pause the story there. Thats not how life works.

    • That’s exactly how life works for quite a few people. In fact, there are a lot of men and women who really do get everything they ever wanted. Psychologically, that’s a hard thing for some to accept because their internal defense mechanisms can’t handle the implications or the feeling of unfairness.

      In my own inner circle, there are 80+ year olds who found their spouse as teenagers, amassed millions of dollars together, traveled the world, had fantastically awesome kids who, themselves grew up to be successful and have now provided them with an abundance of grandchildren they adore, are highly respected in their fields and still get paid a ton of money to consult whenever they feel like, and have had accomplished everything they ever wanted. They’ve taken six months at a time to paint in Europe. They’ve backpacked through Asia. Nothing bad has ever happened to them and given they are at the end of their life expectancy, the odds are overwhelming it won’t, either.

      That’s the real world. I hate to break it to you but it’s just the way it goes. Call it unfair. Call it unfortunate. Call it whatever you want but it most certainly exists. It’s generally not a good habit to ignore reality just because it makes you feel bad.

      • The best and simplest realization I ever had was that life isn’t fair nor will it ever be fair. Sounds simple, but it’s not. A lot of the education system and media in the US teaches young people to strive for a perfect society. While it is a noble aim, this incessant focus on fairness ends up causing a lot of happiness when things are not exactly equal, not just in terms of equality of outcome but even equality of opportunity.

      • Tru Jones

        Call this ego-protecting rationalization if you will, but there was once a society that ennobled struggle, transformation, and transcendence instead of peace, comfort, and satisfaction. It is ethic of blood and iron over milk and water.

        What greatness can be claimed by a fortunate man?