Why Migrate to Achieve More?
I just read a brilliant article entitled Death and Underachievement that I think might very well shed some light on the mistaken decision that people make when they decide to migrate from Jamaica.
As I mentioned in prior posts, the transition from being "someone" in Jamaica to being "no-one" in the U.S. is a difficult one to make for most. It doesn't take too long, however, for a Jamaican to realize what the new rules are for living in the U.S. and to adjust themselves to become part of the new rat race.
Their first goal is usually to accomplish more than their peers back home, and to get some stuff that quickly shows that they made the right move. When they return home, they are sure to bring proof that they made the right decision to leave, bringing back new clothes, new hair, new teeth... anything to show that they are doing better than if they had stayed.
But what has really changed in that regard? Sure, they have access to better prices for better goods in better stores. And they can acquire a lot more.
But what does all that amount to? In the end, we all end up in the very same place and all but a handful of us are remembered for more than a few years. My parent's gardner died a few weeks ago, and left absolutely no-one behind except his landlord, my parents and another gardener to work with. While I am sure that he is in a place where it matters not one bit, I can see that his life is ours, with the exception of one or two hundred people.... many of whom would rather go to the accounts receivable meeting than attend our funeral.
he makes the point that underachievement might even be a good thing, because great achievement leads to great failure which leads to great misery. Furthermore, greater achievement only vaults someone into the company of great-er achievers, making it more difficult to achieve.
Let’s further suspend disbelief and presume that measuring your success against those of your peers is a worthwhile and significant undertaking. Remember, then, that with each subsequent rise through a social stratum comes an increasingly insurmountable and intimidating group of competitors. And this is just as true of prime ministers and emperors as it is of district managers and fry cooks.
His argument is that seeing as well end up in the same place (i.e. in some form of crunchy dust) why bother to make it hard on ourselves by trying to achieve so much, when it can be shown that an addiction to achievement is such an unhealthy and unhappy thing.
Hmmm... good point.