Amused to death


Walking along the Cote d’Azur through towns and cities like Cannes, Antibes and Nice I am confronted with the sea that separates rich and poor. Literally. Fifty meter yachts are anchored a kilometer from the shore. They are too far out to see what is going on onboard, but I can imagine their owners looking back and congratulating themselves that they are not among the ants that crowd the beaches. It suddenly hit me how lonely they actually must be. They have blown up their ego to a size that doesn’t even fit the harbour anymore.

I have never had problems with people making money. Depending on how they have earned it of course. If Graham Bell made millions with his telephone, an invention that surely enriched all our lives to this day, who am I to say that he hasn’t earned the right to kick back and sit by the pool with a cocktail in his hand for the rest of his life? Not that he did, because he kept on inventing until he died - he even refused to have a telephone because he found that it intruded too much on his work. Good for him, because it shows that he was truly passionate about what he did. Most people seem to have forgotten how important that is. Wealth should be a happy side effect, not a goal in itself.

Of course, there aren’t too many Graham Bells around, not then and not now, and that makes it harder for people to understand and accept the immense differences in wealth they see around them. That is one of the reasons why some people have a deep aversion to words like money or profit. For them they equal greed and exploitation. I don’t believe that. Money is a tool of exchange, and if all is honest and transparent, it is a reflection of someone’s added value economically. It is the ‘if’ in the last sentence that is our biggest problem today. Bankers for instance, often do not work honestly or transparently. They never really add value either, but for most people that has only become clear recently.

Having to get by with about five euro’s a day in this area is next to impossible. Without the help of my hosts I would not have made it through. And yet still I smile when I see the well groomed and sharp dressed filthy rich pass by in their Rolls Royces with a chauffeur behind the wheel. With locked doors, closed minds and eyes averted they cut through the crowd, but a golden cage is still a cage. My god do they miss out on a lot of wonderful people out here! The only ones that are worse off are the people who draw the wrong conclusions from all this bling bling, who don't have the money to live the lifestyle, but work their ass off to be able to afford a designer shirt and buy a beer for twelve euro’s in a hip bar, acting rich. Walking along the Cote d'Azur it helps if you are able to see the comedy in tragedy.

I strap the cart with all I own in this world around my waist and take a last look at the luxury yachts in the bay. I wouldn’t mind being invited on one some time, but please don’t have me own one. They are way to heavy to pull.

Wijnand Boon