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One of my patients I saw yesterday is a transplanted Englishman who is mystified by Prince Harry: “If he wants to leave the royal family, fine. Others have done that in the past. It’s not for everyone. But why is he so determined to destroy the entire institution on his way out? Why can’t he just go, and do something else with his life?”
I mentioned his perspective to my wife, who just shrugged and said Harry is trying to sell books, and is only interested in whatever money he can make, however he can make it, and he’s not acting on any particular principle. She may be partially right. But I really think there’s more to it than that.
There’s a brilliant post on the main feed which attempts to figure out why nihilists, who think that nothing matters, are so often tyrannical in attempting to control the behavior of others. Bryan Stephens made a characteristically insightful comment, “When you make what happens the fault of someone else, you have to go after them.”
When I was in elementary school, I tried out for the basketball team. There was one spot left, and Jimmy got picked over me. So I didn’t make the team, and I was extremely upset. I complained to grandmother about the injustice of it all. Why was Jimmy favored over me, the coach likes him better, I don’t want to be on the stupid team anyway, and so on, like 10-year-olds tend to do. My grandmother just looked at me and said, “Maybe Jimmy is better at basketball than you are.” And, of course, she was right. So I started practicing basketball at home, to try to make the team the next year. Which I did.
Imagine being raised without a grandmother who cared less about your feelings than she did about your development as a person. Imagine being so narcissistic that you just couldn’t imagine anyone being better than you at anything. Imagine all your problems being someone else’s fault. Imagine how angry you’d be. Understandably.
This, to me, is the most destructive aspect of leftism. Attempting to get votes by convincing people that their problems are not their fault, and that you will work on their behalf to punish those who have wronged them – that may win votes, but it is pure poison to a society. Pure poison. There is no surer way to destroy a society than that.
It was a more compelling story (especially to me) that the coach was discriminating against me, and didn’t choose me for the team because he’s a bad person. Grandma suggested that perhaps I was a bad basketball player. Her point was less compelling. But on the other hand, it was true.
And thankfully, I listened to her, and I got to work trying to improve myself, rather than hurting the team (which is pretty much exactly opposite to Prince Harry’s response to perceived rejection). I got better, and so did the team – they had a better player this year (Jimmy), and a better player next year (me). I gained confidence, self-respect, and athletic ability. The basketball team gained a good player the next year. Everyone got better.
Simply because my grandmother wouldn’t allow me to wallow in narcissistic resentment. She had lived through the Great Depression, and had little tolerance for my self-pity.
I wish Prince Harry’s remarkable narcissism was remarkable. But these days, it’s not.
We’re destroying our children by protecting them from setbacks and inflating their self-image.
And causing them great pain, as well. When my youngest started at Georgetown, she shared a house with four other girls. My daughter was the only one of the five of them who was not taking psychiatric drugs. She was mystified: “I’m a scholarship athlete! If I don’t perform, I lose my scholarship! I’m majoring in Computer Science! One of the toughest majors on campus! In every class, I’m the only athlete in a roomful of freakazoid brainiacs! The other four girls are non-athletes majoring in psychology, and they’re the ones who need drugs to handle stress? WTF?!?“
Prince Harry (and any other spoiled child) is incapable of happiness. Because nothing is his fault. Thus, it’s impossible for him to improve his life on his own. From his perspective. He’s lost the connection between his actions and the results of those actions. Leading him from self-pity (sometimes understandable) to nihilism (ever and always inexcusable).
Prince Harry hit a rough patch and lashed out at those around him. My daughter hit a rough patch, and she got to work.
And now, my daughter is much better off, and Prince Harry is much worse off. Imagine that.
If you think you deserve happiness, or if you think you deserve anything else, then nothing is ever good enough. If you want more of something, you resent whoever didn’t give it to you. You don’t work harder to go get more of it. You reflexively rage at the injustice of it all.
And it’s human nature – we always want more. So if we expect someone else to always give it to us, we’ll always be disappointed. And thus, angry. And thus, destructive, rather than productive.
Prince Harry’s narcissism and resulting anger and resentment are destroying him. Meanwhile, we encourage such behavior in our children.
Life is hard. Get to work. Nobody owes you anything.
I was fortunate to get that message in my youth. So was my daughter. Prince Harry, apparently, was not. Or, perhaps, he just didn’t listen. To the most important advice he’d ever receive.
The 10th Commandment is there for a reason. It was placed there by someone who understood human nature much more profoundly than Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama or, dare I say, Pope Francis. But who cares about donkeys, right? The 10th Commandment may sound odd, but we should listen. To perhaps the most important advice we’ll ever receive.
The survival of western civilization may depend on very simple things, more than on grand philosophies.
Life is hard. Get to work. Nobody owes you anything.
That message won’t win any votes. But it just might save our civilization.Published in