Saturday, September 11, 2004

To be (or not to be) a snob
I have been troubled lately by the suspicion that I may be a snob towards a certain class of people. DOB and I were discussing this at 4:30 this morning. (Why were we awake at 4:30 on Saturday when we can scarcely hear the alarm on weekdays? We wish we knew.) Anyway, this is the distillation of the discussion.

It is not lack of money that we are tempted to look down upon. For one thing, there are few people who have less than we do at the moment. (Although there are certainly those with much more debt.) Nor is it a particular kind of employment--we have many good friends and relations who work with their hands, whom we respect and admire.

Rather it is a particular outlook on life: an attitude of entitlement and resentment, one that puts in only the required amount of time and effort and then complains about the pay. A perspective that only sees and spends for the present, indulging in pleasures that are gone in a moment while long-term needs go unprovided for. I also think it tends to accompany poor taste in clothes and decor--but that makes sense, because it is a mindset that does not strive to learn or grow.

These people do tend to work blue-collar jobs and be poor. But that is a consequence, not a cause, of their mindset. People who work blue-collar jobs who take pride in their work, poor people who spend what they have wisely, people of any class who are always trying to learn and grow, who appreciate beautiful things and try to further them--they are all worthy of respect and a pleasure to be around.

It's not necessarily snobbish to note characteristics that are undesirable and criticize them--or even to minimize contact with people whose bad attitude is catching. It could be snobbish, though, to assume a person has certain characteristics before getting to know him, or to condemn the person rather than his behavior. Since that's always easy to slide into, I shall have to be careful.

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