Sunday, November 1, 2015

the well-heeled waving the healing wands

               To treat with excessive indulgence.
A well-cosseted life is a life cuddled in comfort, whether literal or metaphorical. Often the term is used in a snarky way to indicate someone who is spoiled and a bit dim about the 'realities' that others less comfortable confront.

Today I wonder -- literally wonder -- it's not just posing a rhetorical question -- to what extent it is the well-cosseted who are the spotlight heroes of philosophy and religion. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Mohammad, Thoreau, Gautama, FDR ... pick your brightly-lit expositor of, among other things, a simpler and often more impoverished life-style. Put too baldly, I wonder if it is the rich kids who can sell poverty.

George Orwell sniffed the edges of such questions in his "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "The Road To Wigan Pier" if I recall correctly ... the well-heeled waving healing wands.

And further, I wonder if this is not just the way of things. Who better to have the time and comfort in which to posit a more nourishing lifestyle? A ravaged life is seldom the point from which a gentler and broader invitation is extended: It takes effort to stay afloat when you are drowning; when you are not drowning, there is time to reflect and expound and grow a halo.

But there is forever a soupçon of doubt: What can a well-cosseted life claim to know of a life scratching out a hard-scrabble existence? It may look good, feel good, and in fact be very apt -- all those holy and philosophical nostrums delivered from a cosseted cocoon -- but ....

Nor is there any guarantee that a kinder, gentler philosophy or religion will evolve: Hitler was no altruist.

But perhaps it is just the way of things: Just because expositors arise out of a comely and comfortable background does not mean that their expositions are necessarily wrong or false. It does suggest, however, that investing those spotlighted with a glow and glimmer of walking-the-walk is open to question.

In the end, the rich kids may lead and the poor kids may follow, but it's still up to the poor kids to find out for themselves, just as the most benevolent of the rich kids suggested in the first place. That, and, as a sidelight, keep an eye on the expositor who may find him- or herself increasingly convinced by all those wowser accolades.


Look who's talking!

1 comment:

  1. Tell me what you need. And i'll tell you how to do without it.