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Paul Stukowski, Oct 20, 2005

Dear P. U.,

I can appreciate your concern for my financial well-being, but I assure you, I shall get employment in due time. Of late, many people have mirrored your sentiment, though lacking your feeling and tact. My health, you must allow yourself no doubt, is equal to that of any more affluent individual, and I am as well-fed as a man of my years could hope. Indeed, all that I lack is the respect of my peers, and it is arguable whether any of our countrymen ever truly gain such...

Better that you analyze your motivations for entreating me into employment. In my travels, I have, unexpectedly, found that the insistence upon getting a job, any job, for the sake of ?acquiring money to live? is a selfish whim on the part of the self-ignorant. They deny themselves their own personal freedoms, because they were raised to do such, and devote their time to a pursuit they have no natural inclination towards, and insist that everyone suffer in like fashion.
No one is born desiring slips of green paper, but they exert the greater portion of their lives fighting for these disease carrying promissory notes. They fear poverty, having no inkling as to what that very thing is, and search for a happiness they could never hope to identify. If only they realized that what draws them are faint, somewhat fabricated, memories of their infancy, a drive to regain a situation in which they were protected, to some extent, and their needs taken care of with no effort on their own, they would realize that the pursuit of happiness is nothing more than a pursuit of laziness. Instead of recognizing such, they look for a woman to care for them as their mother did, valuing and seeking out what that shadow of a memory told them would ?bring her love to them.? You will note, I am sure, that those who are most fervent in the acquisition of wealth were raised with parents who, either by distancing themselves from their offspring or wailing upon their own inadequate fortunes, placed the ability to purchase as the utmost sign of success, in which only success is the deciding factor of which child is bestowed with much needed affection. So much time and energy is devoted to going back in time and hoping that a parent will notice and take care of them once again; it saddens me at times, when I allow myself to think of it.
So, too, am I saddened when I think of why I, myself, have no such goal or driving force. Where others have some object or fiction they could have once used to gain their parents? acceptance, my own childhood- no, I think that I am in no position to unload that upon you. You have your own troubles

I find myself looking for an activity in which I find pleasure for myself. Having never been told what would be deemed an acceptable focus for my energies (my parents never praising any profession in my presence or even going so far as to bother with granting me a morality to use in making decisions), I am at a loss as to what I would be interested in doing. The Arts still seem most likely, they being among the few pursuits that require no training for an intelligent individual, while allowing a freedom from overbearing authority figures and the absolute filth or physical strain inherent within those activities the impoverished and ignorant often find themselves pigeonholed. To think, that the prevailing religious sentiment in this country believes that the goal of wealth is so valuable that the loss of individuality and choice is acceptable, as long as it ends with the ability to acquire. Had they been raised only to get affection when bearing an armload of flowers, this nation would be picked over to a dull brown...

Understand, this altruism your parents are so proud of is nothing more than complex self-centeredness. You must understand how an individual sees himself. You are not ?you, and you alone.? As a human, you are just as much those things our language deems possessions. Our parents, our friends, our blood, our nation, even our pets and belongings- these are nothing but mere ideas, floating inside our minds, forming our identities. Take away the physical objects, without telling us, and there shall be no change in our identities ? we will still hold the same beliefs as we had. But tell us there is a loss, say we lost a kidney, even if it is still where it had always been, provided that we think of such things as our internal structure, and we would be profoundly affected by the information, as false as it is. Since our beliefs are the actual stuff of our beings, we can build a personality of catchphrases, so that ?altruism? is as much a part of our body as an arm or leg. When an individual leads himself to believe that he is ?altruistic?, he must act towards that end; that individual has no choice but to perform actions he believes are altruistic, for to do otherwise would be to deny an important fa´┐Żade of his own identity. He does not see the people he helps as being individuals, at least no further than he needs to do so to fulfill his own belief that he does, but instead they become objects of his altruism, necessary parts of his identity that complete his vision of himself. If they act outside of that function, they cease to be valuable persons, and can possibly be a source of fear and hatred, since he no longer has any control over their fate. This is the same principle that allows people to ?love? their children; even if the reality of the situation is that their offspring are really another man?s. It is also the explanation of why truth can be so devastating. (To find out a Truth, Your Truth, is in error your very existence comes under attack. It takes a strong mind to accept the possibility of being hopelessly wrong.)
Somehow, looking over that, it does not come over as clearly as I have it in my head. Certainly a poor sign for my own self-identity...

Belief and choice are the key components of self-determining, even in my self-imposed ?poverty.? Understand, at this point in my life, I am not truly impoverished. Poverty has nothing to do with money. Impoverishment is based on the absence of choice. What you wear, what you eat, what you do, do not matter. That you have a say in choosing things does. The poor are poor because they are forbidden to perform certain activities, not because they do not have tiny slips of paper

What we are dealing with is a society in which capital and choice are linked, but a lack of money and poverty are correlated, not resultant. The lack of money does not lead to poverty any more than poverty leads to a lack of money. The lack of money, however, does often lead to a lack of choice, and that leads to a state of impoverishment (where impoverishment is loosely defined as those psychological and physical characteristics which ?worsen? a human entity in respect to societal class and ability to successfully function as a part of a workforce). In regards to those who believe poverty and intelligence are tightly knit, again, they are merely correlated, with many extremely intelligent individuals unable to gain financial and societal stability, while incompetents live comfortably with no experience of lack.
Someone with no resources can be wonderfully healthy and civilized, simply by having been raised to possess the abilities to properly manipulate their environment to fulfill their needs and provided their imagination does not allow them to desire anything other than what is at hand, even should that mean they have no desire to interact with other people (individuals who encourage the lack of desire as a path to happiness often forget the full extent of what desire implies). Conversely, a person may be the sole beneficiary of a multi-million dollar business, and should they have no experience in how to utilize that money to acquire what they need, they will exhibit the depression and aloofness often characterized with the poor...

(You, yourself, could be considered ?impoverished;? your lack of confidence certainly supports this view. But in your case, it is not a lack in societal choice that holds you back, but rather your belief that your only choice is to honor your parents? insistence that you get a wife and procreate. If our past encounters could not divorce you of such self-destructive limitations, I am afraid I am far more powerless to help you than those fools I encounter on a daily basis.)

So, you see, I am not in the least suffering from poverty. My choice at this point in my life invalidates that experience. People born impoverished cannot simply choose to be poor or well-off. Choosing to be poor is, if anything, an insult to those who were never asked, and my continuance is merely a pause as I search for a reason to go forward. The money does not make someone impoverished; it is not knowing what to do or whom to ask for assistance that leaves one powerless to accomplish anything...

They are, to use a hackneyed slur, hippies. [
] I greatly welcomed the help they had, but they do nothing, other than wail against other people they think do nothing. I would hold no such behavior against them, except for their refusal to hear anyone?s opinion. Which confounded me the most when it occurred to me that none of them had the ability to produce their thoughts on their own. They were taught to be arrogant. Well, granted, we all are taught that by our situations ? we never get over the habit of infancy to think that everyone must know what we, ourselves, know, nothing more and nothing less, and anyone who disagrees with us must be willfully lying to us. But this was a level of arrogance, steeped in self-deluding levels of ?altruism,? which brought me no end of annoyance and irritation. Indeed, no one as arrogant as I am should ever have to endure such levels of haughtiness, especially in the under-educated ? it leads us to fear that we are just as incompetent.
Anyway, our discussions that first night kept returning to the ?evils? of private property, and I am afraid that I was too tired and overwhelmed to make myself clear. I shall spare you re-iteration of my views on ?good? and ?evil,? but hearing actual, real people blame an inanimate object for causing pain and destruction- worse yet, the idea of an inanimate object- I could barely contain myself. I hope you will indulge me as I attempt to reform my arguments from that night into something more tangible and less frustrated.
What I attempted to show, through the use of a pen, was that if I possessed a pen and another, let us say
K, since that is what my hand drew just now
if K requests my pen, it is assumed that I shall give it to him. Now, let us assume K is not accustomed to conserving resources so he breaks it in boredom or some such. Later, when I am in need of a pen, I ask K for my pen back. It is not so much K?s irresponsibility that frustrates me, but rather my need for the pen, which I am now forbidden use. So I must then go out and put forth effort to replace the now-useless resource. If this continues, sometimes K breaking the pen, sometimes the ink running out, etc., in time I will cease to allow K access of the pens I acquire and any other object within my care, simply because my intelligence allows me to realize that I will need the pen in the future, and if K has access to it, I shall never retrieve it. At this point, note that I was trying to explain how my personal access to the object in question, my use of it by holding onto it until a later time of need, was all that is required for it to be considered ?private property,? although, understand that I know full well that the hippies were using ?private property? to refer to any object forbidden to be used by public consumption. What I was attempting to do was to show that their definition fails to take into account why certain objects were taken out of circulation. Now, back to the example. I continue to acquire pens, but my store of pens is limited, and I am used to K sapping my resource. Then imagine when K?s friends each ask for a pen. Unable to discern whether K?s friends are as irresponsible as K I assume that it is best to not give them access to them. It is the lack of trust that makes the pens thereon ?private property? and in turn frustrates K. But K continues to ask for the pens, and I continue to say ?no.? While there is annoyance, still there is no great harm. This goes on until K, finally realizing that asking will get him nowhere, stops asking. That is where the harm comes in. That moment, in which K feels powerless to get his needs fulfilled and so stops asking for assistance, is when K is in danger, for the powerlessness could very well continue elsewhere in his life. At no point before then does his not having use of the pen constitute harm towards his self. It is only the lack of hope to get the resource that is problematic. I cannot emphasize this point to the level necessary to make it clear. It is not the lack of a resource, but rather the lack of hope that causes the most harm.
Now, let us introduce
W. W, unlike K, asks for the use of the pen, which he is in grave need. Unable to come up with an adequate reason not to momentarily part with it, I give it to him, begging him to remember to return it to me when he is no longer writing. In return for the pen W gives me something I need: let us say a hug. The value of the hug, the physical value at least, does not compare, but since at the time I am in great need of a hug, it has great emotional value. What is more, when he is done with the pen, W gives it back. Take great note: he gives it back. So the resource is once again in a position that I can use it for its function, and I get something that is important to me. So, in the future, when W asks for something else, I allow him to use it. And when I ask W for something he gives it to me. Since we are able to trust one another, we continue to trade objects for nominal payments of hugs or an exchange of relatively useless objects. Unlike K, whom I do not trust enough to put myself out to give resources, I freely participate in a habit of exchange with W. I am still able to have objects that are termed private property, but, because of the trust that I will be able to have access to them in the future, they are still loan-able to a certain individual.
So, in essence, private property is not the problem: the problem in question is the fact that it has become taboo to ask for the use of objects. People, historically, would have been more than willing to share if they had assurance that they could, when needed, retrieve an object of equal or greater emotional value. And it is emotional value that is important here, not the physical one. No one cares about what they eat, for example. It is what the food means that people take interest in. They are attracted to memories involved, the fear of not getting enough to stave off hunger, whether the meal had a pulse. The nutrient value, the real, physical value, is ignored. (Even with anorexics, it is the emotions associated with ?eating too much? that evoke fear, not the actual weight itself.) Gold is the standard for the dollar because at one time someone liked how it looked, felt and what could be made from it. Then society forgot that and started using it in place of real value for items, followed by printing slips of paper which ?promised? to be exchanged for gold if asked. If physical value had any weight in the process, money would be in increments of iron. Rob someone of their physical possessions and give them a single object of equal emotional weight and they would never notice everything else was gone...

I think that is all that I have to say at the time. I look forward to your next correspondence and hope you are well. I entreat you once more to remember not to have others force their emotional values upon you, but instead keep to your own desires. As ever, if I pass by you abode, I shall endeavor to stop in.

With sincerest affection,

B. A.



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