1. By the possession of a college degree
A college degree tells you surprisingly little about a person. Human resource personnel who hire workers like to say that it shows you can commit to something big and follow through. To this I would respond, have you ever joined the military? Have you ever washed dishes at a restaurant? Have you ever cleaned toilets? Pauper’s work isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes more sacrifice and more grit than practically any other job.
Having a college degree tells me you could afford to go to college. Maybe that’s because you were smart enough to get a scholarship. Maybe you got a sports scholarship and got passed through all your classes unfairly. Maybe you were a spoiled frat boy who drank and fucked your way through 4 blurry years of fun and made D’s on half your classes, and the only reason you got that high of a grade is because you cheated. I don’t know. The fact that you have a college degree doesn’t necessarily tell me anything. I don’t even know what you learned. Every college. You could have gone to a worthless school where you didn’t learn anything. You could have had bumbling teachers who spent all semester talking about themselves. You could have majored in music, and while I would admire your musical talent, that wouldn’t have anything to do with what kind of a person you are. Some of the dumbest people I’ve known have had college degrees. Some of them even had doctorates.
2. By your rank
You could be a judge who is called “your honor,” a military officer who is called “sir,” a clergyman who is called “father,” a doctor is called “Dr.” or a CEO who commands the subservience of everyone who works for you. I don’t care what your rank is because rank is a social construct awarded by people, who are generally fools. Your rank doesn’t tell me anything about who you are, but if you rub your rank in other people’s faces that tells me immediately that your self worth is based on the opinions of others and the meaningless symbols they give you. Even if you’re the pope or the president. That doesn’t mean anything to me. You may have proven to your followers that you deserve respect, but I’ll judge you on more than your rank.
3. By your own level of confidence
How great you believe yourself to be is rarely indicative of your greatness. Likewise, an inferiority complex doesn’t necessarily reflect inferiority. The perfect example is gangstas who drive flashy cars and wave guns around. Nobody displays more confidence than a gangsta rapper, but few people are as petty and ignorant as gangsta rappers. On the other end of the scale, great scientists and artists can be extremely hard on themselves and have a low opinion of themselves even though they’ve accomplished more than most people ever will, but it’s their humility that gives them room to grow and motivates them to constantly improve themselves and their skill. Granted, some people create self-fulfilling prophecies by telling themselves they’re strong, capable people or weak, pathetic people. But your opinion of yourself (in and of itself) doesn’t tell me anything about you.
4. Your talent in any one skill
So you’re a great musician, painter, soldier, CEO or medical doctor. Great. Good for you. That tells me that you’re passionate or at least dedicated to one thing, but that’s all it tells me. You could still be the world’s biggest asshole. You could also be a great humanitarian. Your personality could be anything and everything. Just because you’re the best at what you do doesn’t tell me if you deserve respect or pity.
5. By your age
Growing old doesn’t necessarily reflect growing up. Some of the oldest people I know are some of the dumbest people I know. There was a time when growing old was a sign of strength and success. Now growing old is easy. There was a time when growing old gave you the power to beat younger people until they feared and respected you. That time is gone as well. Now you have to earn respect by being a good, intelligent, driven, wise person, and that doesn’t come automatically with age. That’s something you have to work on, and that’s something the young can accomplish as well as the old.
6. By your wealth
There are a lot of ways to make money. Some involve intelligence, a good work ethic, sacrifice and tenacity, but owning wealth is not mutually exclusive with success, intelligence or integrity. You can be a mean, stupid screw up and still become wealthy, especially if your parents were wealthy and well connected. In fact, some studies suggest that the more wealthy you are the more likely you are to be a heartless bastard. After all, the only way to get money is to take it from someone else. Thus, the formula for success in a capitalist economy is to pay your workers as little as possible while charging your customers as much as possible. This means the world’s richest men are the world’s best thieves.
Every billionaire is guilty of this, but when judging barely rich people you have to look at them on a case by case basis. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of ways to become poor, and being a virtueless bastard is only one of them. The quickest path to poverty is to be born to poor parents in a country where wages are as low as possible while cost of goods and housing are as high as possible and the cost of higher education is so expensive it creates a glass ceiling. Regardless of what chance of financial success you’re born into, professional success is not the end-all purpose of human existence. Jesus and Buddha were penniless, and both of their philosophies centered around how much more important it is to be a good than to be rich and powerful. If you’re going to judge the success of a man’s life, wealth and power are not the primary criteria.
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