The overexamined life is not worth living. It makes me laugh when I see those self-indulgent lost souls parroting the sad modern line, “I’m not religious but I am spiritual.” What the heck does that mean? Why do so many clowns seem to believe that poking and prodding ever further into their own banal entrails will bring them enlightenment? The only way to happiness is to forget yourself, and to take on humble tasks, on behalf of people whose plight does not affect you. When I started my first voluntary job, working with mentally handicapped adults, the media mother of a mentally handicapped child said to me, “How can you do it! I couldn’t!” and she genuinely didn’t see the oddness of this. Selfishness in the cause of crude biology is one of the most grotesque features of everyday life; no wonder early Christianity was so militantly anti-family.
And the greatest of these is charity. Why did they change the thing after faith and hope to “love”? Any sucker can do that! Charity sorts the men from the boys; “The man who dies rich dies disgraced,” said Andrew Carnegie, the great Scots-American industrialist and philanthropist. “The one who dies with the most toys wins,” say English public schoolboys. In America, the richer people get, the more money they give away; here it’s the exact reverse. Yet another reason why the USA makes Britain look like a moral pygmy.
This is the modern world! Whenever I hear some spoilt middle-class student brat banging on about the stifling conformity of modern Western life, my paws itch to do one of two things. One, stick him in a time machine and send him back to a time when working-class men, women and children lived lives we now associate strictly with the Third World: well into the 1960s young women were put into lunatic asylums in Ireland for having babies outside marriage, and children were sent to routinely destroy their health in factories and sweatshops all over Europe. Or more realistically to put the pampered poltroon on a plane to spend some quality time in one of the many Muslim countries where you can get 150 lashes for having a cup of coffee in a public place with a member of the opposite sex you’re not related to. Then they’ll learn a thing or two about stifling conformity, and maybe appreciate a little more the amazing freedoms of 21st-century Western life. If you don’t like it, cry-babies, there are numerous deserving people in the non-Western world who could make the best of the advantages that are obviously wasted on you.