As submitted to The Daily Maverick.
At some point in the early or mid-80’s, our hosts at a dinner party complained about the escalating price of meat. I remember being struck by how curious this lament was, seeing as the hosts in question were undeniably rather wealthy – they had cars for every conceivable purpose (the shopping car, the beach holiday car, the high-tea-at-the-Nellie car), and lived in what seemed to my youngsters’ eye to be a house in which they might regularly get lost, such were the number of rooms, nooks and crannies.
But as the years have limped on, I’ve heard this sort of complaint regularly, and it has become clear that just about everybody wishes that their lives were better, no matter what their current social or financial status. And this is perhaps good, in that having aspirations is what drives us to better our lives. In many cases, bettering our own lives can contribute to the welfare of others also, and that’s certainly no bad thing.
There is however a difference between being aspirational and being delusional. The former could involve wishing you could afford any meat at all, and the latter perhaps that you could persuade Floyd Shivambu to express himself using coherent and complete sentences. And it is of course possible to make significant distinctions in the realm of what we aspire to, in that it’s somewhat offensive to complain about your lot when you already have more than most could dream of having.