Seeking advise from those I trust most, here are the words of my dear pater:
You may want to read Ann Rand's book on selfishness for a bit of philosophy on human nature and why it may not be so bad as it first appears by my and your Christian moral heritage. Also, there is an issue of pleasing the father and looking accomplished in his eyes, but that's probably well buried deep in the Pirates's sense of worth or accomplishment. I bought a Rambler sedan rather than the Jag I really wanted when I came home from Vietnam, looking back I would have been no worse off and would have had many happy hours cruising in the Jag vs the more rational Rambler. You have a limited time on earth so perhaps, when you're young is the best time to reach for the brass ring and damn the consequences. Enjoy the ride, don't worry too much about the trade-offs.... both his and your economic potential over the next 50 years is very substantial, you are poor as a church mouse now, but that is a temporary affliction.
Perhaps a touch of hedonism isn't a bad thing. Again, as with all things, it's a matter of scale. Dad is also of the ilk that my feelings are the result of my temporary poverty, and such feelings will disperse when I'm back on a more sound economic footing. This may be partially true, but I'm pretty sure that even if/when I have that kind of money, I would still consider that level of luxury unecessary and decadant.
I've been giving this whole issue a LOT of thought lately, in an attempt to understand exactly what is upsetting me, why, and what steps, if any, I should take. Here are some ideas that have occured to me:
It may simply be human nature to view all those with less than us as unfortunate and underpriveledged, while those with more than us are spoiled, greedy, mean, priveledged, etc. I think every one of us feels that our personal balance between frugality and indulgence is an appropriate balance, and anyone differing significantly from out own spending habits is in the wrong, one way or t'other.
It may also be partly due to the fact that growing up in a very working-class and pro-labor household I was taught to resent on some level those people who were more affluent than myself. Furthermore, such people were often described in terms of their material wealth, such as "people who live in houses like that X___." or "people who drive cars like that Y___" etc. I think the unfortunate coincidence that Pirate has purchased an item which in my youth was made out to be an indicator of greed and selfishness is, when I really think about it, at the bottom of what's troubling me.
So I'm left to reconcile the apparent paradox that either my parents were wrong and wealthy people with unnecessary and expensive cars aren't necessarily the greedy bastards who are the source of all the world's ailments,
I have critically misjudged the Pirate and actually he's not the amazing guy I thought he was, but actually he's one of the rich, greedy baddies. (I am exaggering slightly for the sake of clarity, but I think you can forgive me for that.)
On the surface this doesn't appear very difficult. The first statement assumes a lot of absolutes (all problems are caused by rich people, all people who drive nice cars are rich, it's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle, etc.), and absolutes are rarely true. So it should be easy to write an addendum to that philosophy pertaining to exceptions and accept that my parents are not always right and that wealthy people can be good people.
It should be easy. But accepting a change in your views, a change in a philosophy that has colored the way you've seen the world since you were old enough to open your eyes, rarely is. In some ways it would be easier for me to admit that I was wrong about the Pirate, because that's a view that I've only had for a year, as opposed to a lifetime. Furthermore, changing your view about one person does not shatter one's whole socio-economic mindset.
But of course I love the Pirate deeply and I don't want to be wrong about him. I want to continue to believe that he is a good, moral, ethical, generous, honest man. As I've often pointed out before, though, wishing don't make it so, and wanting to believe something, even believing it, doesn't make it true.
Do I really think that buying a car suggests that I've grossly misjudged the Pirate's character? No, not really. I'm just trying to explain to you lot why this whole situation has made me squirm so much. Fundamentally it boiled down to me being wrong about something, either the strong, anti-money values I'd been raised with, or my assessment of Pirate's character. And that, I think, is what this whole thing is all about. It's forced me to confront and re-evaluate some of the assumptions I make about people and the world regarding material wealth. And questioning one's fundamental assumptions about the world is a very squirmy process indeed.