At first thought, this is our purpose, isn’t it? Isn’t ‘prosperity’ the objective of this book? Please ‘hang in there’ and see if this doesn’t make sense to you. Have you ever heard the expression; ‘Times are so good, they are bad’? This especially applies to children who grow up in an affluent world. Their total life experience and expectancy is that they will ‘always’ have whatever they want. Just look at most of the western world and see for yourself how we regard ‘things’ to be of overriding importance. We have vending machines of all kinds that eliminate the need for a clerk. We have ATM machines that eliminate the need of bank teller.
A person can live all day long, doing his business and satisfying his needs without ever relating to a person. We know that the purpose of this book is to help a person to succeed in life by developing good relationships. The theme of understanding yourself is for the purpose of properly understanding who other people in your life so we can effectively relate to our bosses, our coworkers - our world of people. Affluence removes the need of interpersonal reaction in order to survive and flourish.
The challenge, as parents, becomes the ‘proper’ socializing of our children. We don’t need to worry that they will have friends. Our concern is that their relationships build character. Some people have the ridiculous social notion that getting a failing grade is school is a bad thing because it wounds the child’s psyche.
We have an autistic son. He is now 63 years old and he is a beautiful, talented and valuable person. He was autistic long before autism was understood. The law says that a 6 year old child must attend school. It was with much in trepidation that we sent him to attend the first grade in school. His attendance lasted for two weeks until the school superintendent brought him home and said;
“And KEEP him home!”
He didn’t attend school again until he was 10 years old when he was allowed to attend ‘reading’ classes. He attended special classes sponsored by a local church in a program that served the needs of children with all kinds of special needs. As it turned out, he was more of a helper than he was a student. This did help him to socialize with a specialized group of people, but he did not to learn about dealing with the brutality of ‘normal’ school children. After two more years or so, he was allowed to attend regular classes, but he was horribly behind in his socialization skills.
He was additionally stigmatized because he was much older than his classmates and he is a large person making him to stand out in his class. He was much less educated, and his autistic behavior tagged him as some kind of ‘freak’ that could be made sport of. In frustration to his relentless teasing, he would ‘explode’ in rage. This was the result that his tormentors wanted.
Actually, our son is a very intelligent person. He could read before he started school. He is not able to hold a job. Can you guess why? He is an extreme example of the theme of this book. He doesn’t know who he is!
Where am I going with this story? It is about a failing grade hurting a child’s psyche. The school said that they could give him any grade on his report card and asked me what they should do. I told them that it would be a cruel to give him any grade that he did not earn. Can you imagine the confusion that would be caused in an already troubled mind by being told that you were good at something when they knew they were not?
The ‘bottom line’ is – we need to fail in the areas where we are incompetent. We need to know where we are weak as well as where we are strong. Again, we absolutely need to know who we are if we are to succeed in life. We have ‘social engineers’ are trying to conform people to some ‘standard person’, like a bees in a hive, when we do not have ‘standard’ attributes or resources. It is our uniqueness that gives to us the particular attributes that make us who we are and provide the resources for our success.
Back to the title of this chapter; an affluent society stifles the acquiring of success skills because we don’t need them to survive. We can be additionally crippled by a standardized society, (We are all bees or ants). We absolutely need to fail where we are weak. How else can we learn who we are and grow in strength? In chapter 3, ‘Surviving Comfort’, I talk about the trap of being comfortable and how it destroys our development into becoming more than we are. We absolutely need to be challenged and it our society doesn’t do it, we have to learn how to challenge ourselves. Prosperity removes the need for the development of this vital attribute.
We have heard that the average business fails three times before it succeeds. Do we also realize that the failures were the building blocks of success? We absolutely need to ‘suffer’ in some sense in order to be motivated to develop our resources to a level that we can ‘succeed’. Otherwise, we simply ‘float on the surface’ and never realize the fruits of our potential.