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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Can a ”Silver Spoon” person have struggled enough literally to empathize with the struggle of the poor to be truly thankful?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) November 25th, 2014

This time of year (the holiday season) people start to speak of how thankful they are. They expect that everyone should be thankful, or at least acknowledge how hard it is for those living on the periphery. If you never suffered, your family was wealthy to the point you never lacked, vacationed on mega yachts, never seen the inside of a Motel 6, always stayed at the Four Seasons or some 5 star hotel when traveling as well as flying in a private jet. Can such a person really understand the struggle of John Q, much less those on the fringe or those who fell into the cracks? How can they really be thankful when they never had to wait on, struggle for, or were always able to indulge any whim?

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19 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

absolutely not if you were born into it. If you were self-made then possibly

funkdaddy's avatar


I don’t know anyone with a mega yacht. But most of the people I know who have made public health and education for those who don’t have access their career came from families that had plenty their entire lives.

I don’t think you can make that your life’s work without some level of empathy and recognizing how lucky you were.

Aethelwine's avatar

They can empathize, but I don’t think they can truly understand what it feels like when a person needs to count every penny they need to spend.

zenvelo's avatar

Sure. You are judging them by their physical wealth, not heir emotional wealth. They may be poor in spirit, a situation so dire that Christ promised them the Kingdom of Heaven.

What good is it to have all that wealth without any love? Yet the person I know who is most generous and loving and grateful is a guy who grew up dirt poor with five siblings, whose father was a farmworker until he got a gardening job.

Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside, and don’t judge people’s insides by their outside.

People who have struggled with emotional difficulties may be very sincerely grateful.

Aethelwine's avatar

There is a difference between not feeling loved and not knowing if you’ll have enough money to eat or have a roof over your head the next day.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Even folks “born with a silver spoon- – -” can fall on hard times. It does happen.

kevbo's avatar

There’s a concept by a prominent theorist that the path of the privileged is to “unlearn one’s privilege as one’s loss.” What this means is coming to understand that hiding behind privilege separates one from the totality of human experience. If we reduce the sum total of things by this measure, then silver spoons don’t “win” unless they forgo what separates them from humanity. So even if they don’t empathize, etc., their privileged experience is less than the fullness of generic human experience. “They’re” missing out, not “us.”

It just struck me that you’re also basically talking about the plot of “A Christmas Carol.” Maybe just watch that.

Berserker's avatar

I wish I had a mega yacht.

People that are born into a rich life and have never suffered poverty or its related hardships probably have at least some idea they can imagine, as I’m guessing those peeps are in the minority. Most rich folk have to get there somehow, luxury is rarely just handed out like that. And for those that do get it, as already said, they probably suffer in some other way.

ragingloli's avatar

Of course. Having to settle for a new Bentley instead of a new Royce is the greatest suffering imaginable.

ucme's avatar

I cringe everytime I see my butler’s house, I feel for him, I really do.
His swimming pool is fucking tiny & only six bedrooms!?!

Pachy's avatar

Who is anyone to judge anyone else as “silver spoon” person? Unless one has lived another’s life, he has no idea in what ways that person has suffered and how he relates to others.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think this was one of the great positive aspects of the Peace Corps, and though I have severe reservations about them, those religious organizations engaged in missionary work are worthy of mention. Nothing can compete with “a mile in my shoes” for perspective.

Mariah's avatar

Struggles not involving money do exist. To that end I agree with @Pachy.

That said, I am guilty of being infuriated by the so-called “problems” of some of my more fortunate friends. The buddy with the full ride through school, silicon-valley job offer, and perfect health who hated his life because he couldn’t find a girlfriend got on my nerves pretty badly towards the end of our friendship.

Esteban1's avatar

Why would someone with money need to empathize with the poor to be thankful? You speak as if wealth is the path to no problems. Growing up without money doesn’t mean you lived a harder life than a rich kid. I grew up with rich kids who would have traded their old parents for my young parents and grandparents in a heartbeat. They completely lacked the attention I got from having healthy grandparents and young parents. Their parents sucked and their grandparents were dead. What’s so great about that?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@zenvelo (People who have struggled with emotional difficulties may be very sincerely grateful.
An emotional difficulty would not affect one’s ability in a tangible way, to pay the cable bill, gas up the car, buy clothes or recreate at the movies, etc. unless it manifested itself as a psychological problem, and then it would be the ability of ther person to function, not that they had no cash to function.

@stanleybmanly Even folks “born with a silver spoon- – -” can fall on hard times. It does happen
But, until people fall on hard times, if ever it did happen, could they truly understand those living hand-not-quite-to-mouth? Everyone has equal opportunity to lose a limb but until you do, can you truly understand how hard it would be to shave, iron a shirt, or hammer a nail?

funkdaddy's avatar

Isn’t saying those who are well off can’t possibly understand anything else just like saying any one of us can’t understand living in any conditions we haven’t experienced? There’s always someone that has it worse, is it a contest?

When I was young, we always ate, but my parents went hungry some nights. We lived in a trailer and got kicked out of trailer parks, I’m assuming for rent. So I guess we were poor.

I’m still thankful for my childhood and especially for my parents. I’m still thankful that I was poor in the US rather than poor in some area where running water is a luxury, or there’s constant civil war, or education stops when you can earn a couple pennies a day. I still wouldn’t trade our trailer for the shipping containers people volunteer to go live in so they can build facilities for areas that don’t have any.

I haven’t experienced any of those things, it doesn’t stop me from being thankful for what I have.

JLeslie's avatar

If the person never worked a day in their life I don’t think they really can understand the struggle and fears associated with being poor.

Most people I know who grew up with money, also worked very hard, and many made their own way. My husband didn’t have yachts growing up, but he had a maid, a new car every year from age 13, his parents bought a townhouse for him to live in when he went to college, he never wanted for much of anything growing up. They lived like they had money, but the financial situation was actually very precarious, which he didn’t really have an inkling about until he was older, his childhood he was clueless, as most children would be.

He still had normal adolescent struggles dealing with his parents and he felt the need to be independent of them, which meant financially independent. He made sure he attained a college degree, the first in his family, he pursued his own career. He is self made in my opinion, even though he definitely had the luxury of parents who paid for his education and provided him with many nice things while growing up. Since college he has never taken a penny from his parents.

People who grow up in old wealth and continue to have it passed down to them do live in another world in my opinion. Their surroundings including where they live, vacation, eat, and work, can be a bubble. However, there are plenty of people who grow up with money who care about the poor and care about all the ramifications of not helping the poor and not helping people out of poverty and its affects on society at large. They might take action by volunteering, or they might become lawyers or politians, or just donate to causes to help people in poverty.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Unless you have worked and paid your way through college with zero outside help you are not self made. Few of us are. My folks let me move back home for the last two years of my first degree when I could not afford rent. While I paid my way through by working that bit of help made all the difference.

JLeslie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me You have to pay your own way through college to be self made? I don’t think I agree with that. My father grew up piss poor with a dad who was Schizophrenic who worked in a factory, and was a little hard of hearing. His mom wasn’t very bright, basically he was neglected in some ways, although he did have a roof over his head barely. He didn’t learn to read until 3rd grade, I doubt his parents even knew.

He went to college for free, because it was available in NYC and because he wanted to do it. His mom wanted him to go to work because her sofa was very old and she wanted a new one.

My dad is self made as far as I am concerned.

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