In a recent New York Times article we learned a little more about how our growing gap between the rich and the rest of us is affecting our way of life. The story told of the children being dropped of at the prestigious 92nd St. Y Nursery school. It’s the same school we heard of a few years ago where “in 2002, a government investigation found that Jack B. Grubman, then an analyst with Citigroup, had bragged in an e-mail message that his boss, Sanford I. Weill, had helped get his twins into the Y’s nursery school after Mr. Grubman upgraded his rating on a stock as a favor to Mr. Weill. Meanwhile, Mr. Weill arranged for Citigroup to donate $1 million to the 92nd Street Y.”
In the current story, kids are dropped off at the school by “hired drivers” (otherwise known as chauffeurs). Apparently this “driver” experience has become a real game about who is more important and who has more money.
The letters to the editor the next few days, had some astute comments. As one said: “These parents scramble to give their kids the best opportunities and the most protected environment, yet with one-upmanship, they teach their children the value of image, class consciousness and materialism. These are not the traits necessary to get us through the challenges of the 21st century. What about compassion, honesty, humility, selflessness and curiosity about th world around them?”
It’s interesting to realize again that children learn from their parents. When they see their parents so concerned about success and status, they learn that these are the things to pursue. Happiness research shows that when people pursue status, they become more narcississtic which, in turn, undermines their social abilities. And it is social abilitities, the talent for making friends and connecting with others that brings people the most well being in life.
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