Different Standards for Different Folks

F. Scott Fitzgerald had noted that “the rich are different from you and me.” Ernest Hemmingway agreed and said, “Yes, they have more money.” Having more money is a significant difference because the most important of its derivate effects is that they have more power. The concerns of the rich are more important; their pain is more acute; their viewpoint is more worthy of consideration; their comprehension of the world more accurate. As Tevya, the poor farmer in The Fiddler on the Roof notes while dreaming of being a rich man, “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”

The rich nations are different from the others. When terrorism strikes a poor country like India, it is a matter of little concern. A series of bomb blasts by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai is not worth getting all upset about. Life goes on. Islamic terrorism in Kashmir driving out the Kashimiri Hindus — ho hum boring. But when London gets hit by Pakistani Islamic terrorism carried out by home grown terrorists, the din of breast beating resounds around the world.

I make this observation not from a moralistic standpoint but only as an interested observer. In their place, I would probably have reacted exactly the same way as they do. Caring more for one’s self is neither a crime nor immoral, in my estimation. What is unacceptable is the hypocrisy that consists in declaring that one is against terrorism anywhere in the world, while in practise only caring about one’s own skin and not giving a damn about how one’s actions actually increase the incidence of Islamic terrorism elsewhere.

The rich are definitely different. Their demons are the most important demons that plague humanity. For example, ask anyone — even those who have little to do with the rich — who was the worst mass murderer in history, and the most likely answer will be “Hitler.” Was he really? Here is a different perspective on Hitler. No, it does not claim that he was not a bad guy, but rather that he was not all that remarkable.

I view the Islamic terrorist bombings of London with the same abhorrence and disgust as I do the peddling of weapons of mass destruction by the advanced industrialized countries. (See also the followup article.) Islamic terrorism has to be eradicated of course. But to really make the world safe, we must also eradicate the military industrial complex of the advanced industrialized countries.

{Related post: What the World Owes the US. Here are the true weapons of mass destruction which could not be found in Iraq.}

Author: Atanu Dey


4 thoughts on “Different Standards for Different Folks”

  1. Atanu:

    I was thinking in similar lines.

    here in adelaide, I talk with a Arab women whose mother is English and grew up in Qatar and England.

    We find it shocking that millions of people can spare two minutes of their time for 54 dead in london but not the thousands of iraqi, afghans, Indians, and Africans (oh! I forgot the Live 8)

    Its better that India and Indians realise that the rich are more valuable than the poor. The chinese realise it and are working towards their economic developemnt.

    Unless India is richer, it will not be heard. That is the hard truth.

    Interestingly, the seemingly modest work that we do in Call Centers are making India known in the western world.

    I had this incident in Adelaide. I was trying various jobs and landed in a call center job.

    Most of the people on the phone assumed that I was calling from India and a lot of them had some not so good words for me.

    The point is that we need to be economically stronger for us to be morally and righteaously stronger.



  2. Atanu,

    “The concerns of the rich are more important; their pain is more acute; their viewpoint is more worthy of consideration; ”

    It has got to be true the other way too, the pain of the poor is less acute and their voice is too pale….

    and that is why we don’t seem to hear a major outcry when on an average 40 people keep dying in Iraq each day.



    The problem when you say “India has to become Economically stronger” is people misinterpret the same and think that its just the GDP growth & PPP.

    Nobody seems to care about economic divide, % below poverty line etc.

    I am not sure if my fears are valid, but I kinda feel, in the 8+% GDP growth, lot of people are left behind untouched and a select few are growing by leaps and bounds. I feel there is a need for new methods of measuring economic growth , when a huge population country is growing at a fast pace.


  3. NewYork incident was labelled 9/11, while the London one 7/7. In the same vein, it is quite apt to call the atrocities committed by american military-industrial complex ’24/7′ since people are killed (on an average) every minute by american ammunition.


  4. True. After the several times we hear of bombings in Baghdad and killings in Kashmir, we tend to flip channels on them and move on to newer news. Weeks and months of mourning in New York and now in London but not much time for those folks in Iraq. The poor pick up the dead, bury them away, shed their tears and move on.


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