Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The More you Have, the More you Have to Lose

Today's headlines included yet another story of financial ruin and suicide, as seen in this story.* Haven't there been something like 5 or 6 of these suicides in the past year? They all have the same things in common: they were all men, high up in the ranks of major financial institutions, and either lost everything, were accused of making other people lose everything, or lost enough to send them from being billionaires to 'mere' millionaires.

What saddens me is that this man, for example, felt badly enough about his financial loss that he preferred death to bankruptcy. That living like the rest of us was such a terrifying thought that he'd rather hang than have to downsize from a 10,000 square foot house to a 5,000 square foot house. He would rather leave his daughter without a father than lose out on his Freddie Mac shares. Oh the shame of it.

And it is easy to assume that he had issues with depression or anxiety prior to this, but it doesn't seem like these stories have anything to do with that. These guys are throwing themselves out of windows for one reason only: the recession. It amazes me that their spiritual lives and their sense of self are so fragile or nonexistent that losing money on stocks would send them over the edge. Not to mention an obvious lack of any kind of support network of family or friends. It makes me realize how blessed I am to have the friends and family that I have--I know that if I were penniless, I could show up on my friends' doorsteps and they'd take me in without judgment, and I would do the same for my friends. I can't imagine living a life devoid of human connection, of an inner life that takes a backseat to career or money misfortunes. I mean, seriously--this is the worst life has dealt them?

Not to downplay financial loss and how stressful that can be, but millions of average Americans have lost their homes, their jobs, their cars, or simply their annual vacations, and what do they do? They go on unemployment, they stay with family, they tell their kids that everything is going to be alright, even when they're terrified and unsure. Because being jobless is terrifying, and having a few dollars left in the bank at month's end is extremely stressful--but these men were in neither situation. When you're making billions a year, and get $300,000 bonuses, you'd think you'd have a little left over in the bank for a rainy day. How do they manage to piss away that much money? And what a wonderful life lesson to teach your children--fly them home from their boarding schools, explain to them that mommy and daddy won't be wintering in the Alps this year, that the nannies and kitchen staff are being let go, and that there is more to life.

There is something to be said for living simply.

*I figured out how to make pretty URLs!

1 comment:

N said...

You hit the nail on the head with "It amazes me that their spiritual lives and their sense of self are so fragile or nonexistent". No man or woman is an island. You know in a way it's easy to surround oneself with "stuff", and feel a false sense of security around it all. But I always wonder what the point will be at the end when one is dying. Do they regret the time they spent earning the money versus the time they could have spent investing in their loved ones? Can't take my stuff with me. But I hope the people I love and love me will be there with me when it's my time to go. My money isn't going to console me, hug me, and be the soft landing at the end of the hard day. But you will :) God will. And my good friends will. Priorities I suppose.