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  • Reverend James Squire

A Rorschach Test

Sometimes I think that the Inquirer is a Rorschach Test for the reader. A Rorschach Test is sometimes referred to as an inkblot test for it is a series of ink blots where the reader sees the image in such a way that it determines something about what the reader identifies as important or gives some indication of the reader’s inner psychological life. For example, an angry person may see one inkblot as blood where a happy person may see the same inkblot as a flower. That is why news turns up so much in my blogs. I can’t help but see connections.

Today is another example. There was an article of gotcha politics saying that after looking at John Fetterman’s life, the Republicans discovered that he isn’t a blue-collar guy but came from a wealthy background. He is the Democrat running for governor in Pennsylvania. They documented all of this to indicate that he was no different from Mehmet Oz who comes from an affluent background. Notice that in all elections everyone wants to claim blue collar roots to indicate that they are self-made people. Hillary and others did the same thing. But Fetterman is different. The accusation of Fetterman’s background backfired on the Republicans because Fetterman has always claimed the privileged nature of his background. What was different was what he did with that “cushy” heritage which is really the ethical issue. His life has been a litany of helping others. Granted when he was doing all that he did, he needed financial assistance from his parents to fund the choices that he was making in serving others. Oz, not so much!

To quote my favorite president: “Here's the deal.” Contrary to the title of a book of some years ago, “the rich aren’t different.” There is also the famous story about John Kennedy campaigning in Boston when someone yells, ‘John Kennedy, you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.” Another voice pikes up and proclaims, “John Kennedy, you didn’t miss anything.” I disagree with this statement as I think Kennedy did miss something that is taught in the blue-collar world. “The rich aren’t different” and “John Kennedy, you did miss something by not growing up in a blue-collar world.”

I know this is true for I live in both of these worlds and that has been a blessing. Certainly, ethics is about money, but it is more about the choices that are made with that money or the gift of education that one receives.

The other myth is that the “haves world” can make you happier than the “have nots” world. Certainly, it can make it easier, but one of the great pieces of research on happiness that was discovered by positive psychology is that happiness is 50% genetics. People have 50% to work with that can improve that percentage, but here is the kicker, so to speak, pleasure doesn’t do a thing for long term happiness. It is short term. What does improve happiness on a long-term basis is engagement with the world and others, and having something that you are committed to beyond yourself. That can be God. It can be a cause, a team, or anything that takes you out of yourself.

Here is where the Rorschach Test comes in. Later in today’s Inquirer is the obituary for Anderson “Andy” Pew, great grandson of Joseph Pew, founder of Sun Oil. He attended the Hotchkiss School, Princeton University, and graduated from Temple. I don’t know him, but his obituary recounts a life lived in the super rich world that the name Pew conjures up in the Philadelphia area. He also was helping others in important ways including in his days as head of the Glenmede Trust. I do know his work there. I was struck by a quotation that is attributed to him. “One should strive for wealth or power only for what could constructively be done with it. It is a vehicle, not an end.”

So, for all you folks who are envious of those grand parties in the Hamptons, know you can be just as happy at a barbecue in your backyard. That’s what you learn when you live in both the “haves” and “have nots” world. Just make sure that you are committed to something or someone worthwhile beyond yourself.

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