Social Question

partyrock's avatar

What does this quote mean to you? Quote inside.

Asked by partyrock (3870points) March 18th, 2012

“A Prince who is son to a Great King must have twice as prosperous a reign as his Father—- otherwise he will be a Failure to Privilege.”

What does this mean to you?

What does it sound like the author is trying to convey?


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12 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

That the child should achieve more than the parent particularly in a situation where the child is born into privilege.

thorninmud's avatar

The son is starting with a great advantage, standing on the shoulders of all that his father has accomplished and, presumably, having been groomed to the position by the great ruler. If he were to then proceed to just maintain the status quo, then he would be seen as a caretaker of his father’s legacy, but also as having squandered an opportunity to advance that prosperity. In order to be considered a great ruler in his own rite, he would have to take the prosperous situation he inherited and, through his own talents, continue to improve the situation.

Earthgirl's avatar

thorninmud said it perfectly. The son needs to make his own mark on the world. It’s one of the things that can make it very stressful to be the child of a great or famous person. It can be very hard to live up to that leagacy, not to squander it, and also to improve on it. They used to have the concept of noblesse oblige. This concept is a little different but I think related.

Really, it’s just another way of saying “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

noraasnave's avatar

It is a broken concept that builds on the idea that if I give my children more than I had growing up that they will be better then me. Unfortunately I have never seen this work in my life or in history. Privilege is simply a different burden to give a child, one which is harder to bear than lack.

The concept is proven in the lives of the modern family, where Mom and Dad work, and think that if they give their children every convenience then their children will be the next step in human evolution, what they find is that their children are unique in their gifts and issues the same as everyone else on the planet. The problem is that the parents have given the children an issue that they haven’t solved themselves: privilege.

The quote makes a logical assertion. Children will be children, they need love, challenge, attention, lots of money, pain, loss, gifts,time and all kind of other things to make them stable balanced members of society. They simply take more than most parents are willing to give.

Earthgirl's avatar

norassknave You make a lot of great points. You’re right of course.
Privilege doesn’t always make things easier in life. The best thing you can have going for you is loving parents and physical health. Then it’s up to you to find what motivates you as a human being. Making your mark doesn’t always have to follow a proscribed societal standard of what a worthwhile achievement is. I believe that if you have pleased everyone but yourself in life you have not lived a successful life even if you die rich and famous.

One exception to that would be if you contributed something significant to humanity. But I doubt that having done that, you would fail to please yourself. You might not be happy, but I think you’d recognize your achievement nonetheless.

digitalimpression's avatar

@thorninmud said it better than I could have hoped to. Great answer.

@noraasnave has some excellent points as well.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Jeruba's avatar

I think “Failure to Privilege”—caps and all—carries an ironic twist that goes a little bit beyond the interpretations already given here. It would be best to see it in context (if there is one), to judge where the main emphasis is supposed to fall. Lacking that, I tend to see this remark not as a comment on parents and children and affluence but as a comment on privilege itself.

The idea that the son’s reign could be as prosperous as, and even more prosperous than, the father’s and still be considered a failure (by not being prosperous enough) is an idea that you can’t afford unless you’re among the privileged. Just having enough to get by, maybe with a little to spare, is plenty for most of us.

“Failure to Privilege” implies a debt or obligation to the abstract notion of privilege per se and not to a person or society. If you fall short, Privilege itself (given substance by the initial capital letter) will be disappointed in you; you’re not upholding the expectations of your class.

Being among the privileged gives you the right to whine about things that others can’t be concerned about (so goes the logic, at least): much like first-world laments that third-world people would never dream of voicing or even thinking. “They didn’t have my brand of decaf.” “My computer is too slow.” “We’re desperate for a three-car garage.” “I need another closet just for my cashmeres.”

I take the king and prince to be metaphorical—that is, not literally titled royal rulers but any heirs to significant status and fortune. So an heir who fails to increase the bounty that was handed to him is letting his peers down by being a weak link—letting the gap between him and the masses shrink instead of making it grow, and hence threatening the ascendancy of his class. And not only letting his peers down but letting the meaning of privilege lose some of its power.

We’re not doing your homework for you, are we, @partyrock?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think it is metaphorical. If your parents give you their all and give you all the advantages they can for you to be successful, and you squander that advantage and don’t succeed, you have failed to live up the their efforts.

partyrock's avatar

Jeruba absolutely not. I WISH I had homework like this. It’s a quote I found that I just like listening to opinions of others on it. I love caps as well. everyone gave really good insight, and pretty much what I was thinking about the quote.

thorninmud's avatar

As far as I’ve been able to tell, this quote originated as a tweet by Tom Hank’s son Chet. And it looks like he even screwed that up by writing ”...must have twice as prosperous a reign as his Successor” (presumably, he meant “predecessor”). If that’s the case, I doubt we can read much nuance into his word choice.

@partyrock Are you aware of another source for this quote?

partyrock's avatar

@thorninmud – Chet is actually a good friend of mine :) I know him from when I used to live in Hollywood. And I have no idea where it’s from, I got it from my buddy.

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