The unprepared will too likely gratify

In case this hasn’t been sufficiently explicitly stated thus far: the unprepared are too likely to do themselves more harm than good in acquiring any degree of mass resources. It’s dangerous. If the way one currently spends their existing resources indicates they gratify themselves more than edifying themselves then adding more ‘capacity’ will surely just magnify the problem. The whole concept of ‘lottery losers’ perfectly highlights this concept: individuals who won the lottery but wasted it all and ended up worse off than they were previously.

Viktor E Frankl’s Man’s search for meaning does a great job illustrating the dangers of unprepared success in his discussions about prisoners becoming liberated (pg 89-90). The same can be applied to not only prisoner’s of war, but prisoners in general. Despite daily dreaming about being made free, many struggle to come to terms with their liberation and newfound freedoms once it becomes a reality. So much so, that many prefer to return to incarceration or even look to taking their own lives as their most hopeful options. The limitations people have on their resources is something we need give serious consideration to prior to removing or freeing ourselves from them.

This is a commonly played out trap of gratification. We feel depraved of life’s pleasures for any length of time and suddenly finding ourselves capable of indulging in those pleasures with near limitless capability isn’t something many respond to very well. It’s imperative at the time of ‘mass resource acquisition’ and even at the time of the recurring change of seasons that one in earnest, reflect upon their newfound resources, and how well one has dedicated them to either gratifying or edifying ends. Viktor refers to it as something similar to “the bends” where he who was once under pressure, if he were to “de-pressurise” too quickly, such could be dangerous and even fatal for him. Again, all things by degrees.

Despite the saying “possession in 9 tenths of the law” assuming you’re prepared for that which you can get your hands on as though qualifications is evidenced in possession alone, is foolishness. The “easy come easy go” expression is also wiser restricted to cases where one has no ability to control or influence ‘the going’ as opposed to being an excuse to waste that which easily comes.

Most of us have some degree of ‘longing’ for wealth, riches, opportunity or time far greater than we currently have. If given the opportunity to acquire such we must give serious consideration to the potential dangers. Such can far too easily become a gratification binge-fest when transitioning from being incapable of damaging oneself too much, to suddenly being given free-range to do so with limitless restrictions.

Only one who proves through current expenditure that edification is prioritised over gratification is theoretically worthy of acquiring ‘more’ which then also requires a repeat test to ensure the same remains true. Even having proved so 100 times sequentially, I’m remain unsure that even at such a stage one should grant them limitless resources. Just because your plumber did a good job on your pipes for $100, doesn’t mean you’d give him $500,000 to renovate your whole house. Just because a receptionist paid $40,000 did a fantastic job, doesn’t mean you’d make them CEO the next year.

To be wise, one needs to prove themselves, at each step, at each stage of increase: Not by restriction, but by choice. The difference can be seen in one’s excess. Unlike one’s ‘function’ where one needs to edify, to even survive, one’s ‘excess’ is much more freely spent on wants and as such does a far better job illustrating one’s desires, whatever they may be. How one utilises their existing excess, is one of the best ways to see if one will choose edification if granted additional excess. It’s the only way we can prove we’re sufficiently prepared for more.

This is how we best prepare for any and all future excess acquisition. We better utilise existing excess to increase edifying function. Those of us who use existing excess to primarily gratify ourselves, will certainly do so at the cost of both function and excess, over time. That cycle is addictive and can easily spiral out of control. Much like how one can be angry enough to respond to even kindness with hostility, one can be so addicted to gratification that they respond to even that which edifies, with gratification.

Such an individual has the ability to be completely honest and sincere and diligent in their efforts to progress yet have such work stack up to their disadvantage and even the disadvantage of those around them. I really don’t feel that it’s that difficult for us to identify such as common place in our world today. How many people do we see trying to achieve some good thing yet are obviously going about it the wrong way.

Such ignorance is not only detrimental but can be very dangerous. Whether we consider them good, bad or ugly, there are countless stories in history of individuals ‘making the world a better place’ as far as their own ideals are concerned, but doing so to the detriment of countless people around them. We must all take upon ourselves the responsibility to commit to consistent, frequent self-evaluation of the edifying value of our lives and help others in our reach, in edifying ways, to do the same. Failure to do so leaves far too many individuals capable of gratifying even their honest hunger for success.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ― C. S. Lewis


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