Going to Hell in the handbasket of one’s choosing

Kevin at The Smallest Minority had a link to Sarah Hoyt’s piece “The Right To Go To Hell”. It’s interesting and insightful, and I suggest you read it.

I hate putting words in an author’s mouth, but I think a short summary would be “You have the right to go to Hell in the manner of your choosing. Some people decide to go through poverty and squalor, either because they are lazy and shiftless, or because they don’t see the value proposition in not being poor.”

To some extent, this makes a lot of sense to me. As I’ve noted in other posts, both of my parents were what I call “West Virginia Refugees”. This means that they picked up, packed up and left the state of their birth for greener pasture$ in the 1950s. I have zero doubt that they fared much better economically than they would if they had stayed.

While my Mom was perfectly happy to be gone, my father never totally was. Many West Virginians I’ve met aren’t either. For several decades the thing that kept many small towns going was their expats returning after they had locked up a secure retirement income.

I’ve spent considerable time in the state. Once the mountains get in your blood they’re hard to shake. I absolutely understand my Dad’s attitude on where “home” was, and it certainly wasn’t where he lived 2/3 of his life. It was West Virginia. Period, hard stop. That’s where I was instructed to take his ashes after his death, so he could finally go home to stay.

Where this ties into Hoyt’s post is this: I’ve noticed over the decades, there are two primary types of West Virginians. There are those who will, willingly or not, leave for those greener pastures, and those who are content to stay and live in poverty and sometimes squalor because West Virginia is home.

I’ve also noticed, in my association with Rhodesian expats, this same dynamic. Many left and have, by and large, done well for themselves, but Rhodesia is still home and they long to return, even when they know it’s impossible. Then there are those stayed, lost everything to thuggery, hyperinflation and other ills endemic to Africa, because it was home and they weren’t going to leave it.

Now, this is painting with that broad brush, but these observations tend to support Hoyt’s thesis. There are those who, for whatever reason, decide that poverty is better than doing what is required to not be poor. I don’t get it, but if I want the right to be left alone and pursue my life in the method of my own choosing, then I need to grant that right to others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *