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Based on the topic of this thread, you can look at it in a different way. All humans need a challenge (or, at least, I've never met someone who is happy without some kind of challenge). A challenge for survival is, perhaps, the most noble kind. Literature (in all cultures) is filled with fantasies of the "Noble Savage". It is easy to connect meaning to that life and death struggle.

In that context, if I compare a rich person sitting on their yacht, sipping a martini to a scavenger who excitedly sets to work fixing a broken clock in order to eat next week -- which person would I want to be like? I mean, yachts and martinis are great, but they don't tell me what kind of person I am -- only that I am rich. Happily tinkering away while struggling against all odds? I want to be that kind of person. So does everyone -- that's why the motif pops up in virtually every piece of fiction, from the Bourne Identity to Harry Potter.

It's a bit of fiction, but I still think it's important. In truth, having a meaningful, noble challenge is mostly orthogonal to having money. We do see people struggling to gain money so that they can escape challenge -- only to be miserable with the result. However, money can also provide the means to choose your challenge rather than to be forced to always deal with survival.

In the end, though, whether you have money or not, how you choose to respond to challenge is what determines what kind of person you are. I also envy and respect those who excitedly greet their challenges every day.




> However, money can also provide the means to choose your challenge rather than to be forced to always deal with survival.

This. I agree with the comment overall, but just in case someone is reading my comments from last night, there's another thing that I wasn't clear about.

Living to survive is something that no one can't possibly relate to unless they are already in that situation.

Although I never felt it, I have a mixed background and witnessed some realities of poverty. Let's take one scenario, which may be simple to you and me but can throw an entire poor family off-balance:

Say that you're sick. You may not afford to get medicine, and even if you can, it becomes a choice whether to sacrifice something else, like lunch money for your kids. Say that after a prolonged period of time, you decide that you do need that medicine after all. So your children goes hungry, and if they go to school, it will affect their studies. Their school isn't exactly well-off either. And now they have a parent who's sick, and who they have to take care of because there's no one else to - so they may have to miss school too. The parent has always been the breadwinner so the children are stuck in a deeper dilemma - who's going to bring the money in now?

Cue in multiple scenarios like this, where hard choices have to be made all the time amongst an environment where drugs, prostitution, crimes etc are more easily accessible ... what chances do these children have when they're all grown up?

Clearly when I was depressed, I romanticised those who were poorer than me (though it was true that they had something which I didn't have.) And like the commenter above this post, I agree that rich people can sometimes miss the plot of living itself. But poverty is a terrible master of destiny. It's a cycle that not a lot of people, let alone the generations that come after them, can just escape.

If you are reading this, please remember that you're actually wealthy, whether in money, health, youth, have access to the Internet etc. You can most definitely afford to 'tinker' - and go for it! But never forget the majority who are still trapped and have to make hard choices all the time.


Indeed, challenge or more broadly sense of meaning, is likely more important than creature comforts. The ideal is sense of security (probably from money in modernity) as well as meaningful goals. As far as I can tell.




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