A Life Lesson from O.J. Simpson
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character—give him power.
Why class matters more than any other label in your life.
For the past year, I’ve had O.J. Simpson celebrating his “Not Guilty” verdict as my phone lock screen.
The reaction to this picture has been mixed. Some people find it hilarious. Others are deeply offended. Most people just find it odd.
Why did I choose one of the most villainous famous figures, in his arguably most villainous moment as my lock screen?
It isn’t some attempt to be edgy and outrage people, or glorify violence.
It’s just constant reminder of what the most important trait in the world is: your class/wealth.
I’m not completely discounting the obstacles people face because of their race, gender, sexuality, religion, looks, origin, etc. Especially hundreds of years ago, people of these respective groups faced a great deal of hardships simply because of a unchangeable trait (or two).
Even then, I’d confidently argue that your class has been the defining factor in how easy your life is, and how much you can get away with.
If O.J. hadn’t been the ultra-rich, celebrity he was, there is no way he would have gotten away with blatantly murdering a white woman and white man. As we’ve seen with recent incident across the U.S., there are still traces of anti-minority bias in the law enforcement and justice system. Forget about 20 years ago.
Class transcends race, gender, sexuality—you name it. To have wealth, to have pedigree, prestige, high standing, to be standing at the top of the social hierarchy means you play by different rules.
Of course, as the quote for this article says, what you do with that power says a lot about who you are as a person. Clearly, we know O.J.’s values (or lack thereof).
I find it ironic that poor white people and poor minorities seem to dislike one another so much. The truth is they have much more in common with one another, than their respective rich counterparts.
All it takes is hanging out in or observing wealthy people in a cosmopolitan setting to understand that at the top, everyone gets along. Yes, even those politicians that campaign against one another.
It reminds me of the famous Tolstoy quote from Anna Karenina, that all happy families are the same, but unhappy families are all unhappy in their own unique way.
Chances are, if you belong to a high class family—you either made it there through the same conventional path (same elite universities, elite professions, etc.) and run in the same circles. You have the same tastes, desires, motivations, and you pass these on (hopefully) to your kids who will continue the cycle.
This passage from Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ (The Path to Power) makes the point about poorer families.
Education is the great equalizer of society. It’s the only tool readily available (outside of marriage for women) that can help you transcend classes.
If and when I surely have the money to start giving back, I’ll be concentrating my efforts on education.
And remember—class envy is never the answer. We all live in a country where we can change our fortunes in a single generation, so there is no excuse to not give your children better opportunities than you had, regardless of where you started and who you are.