We live in a world of haves and have nots, of the elites and their glittering lifestyle, and the ordinary and our mundane way of life. Many people envy the elites of this world, because of their beauty, their wealth, the clothes they wear. Indeed this envy is a whole industry. People watch award shows just to see what their favourite actress is wearing, online clothes stores will sell copies of these original clothes, so that women can feel like ladies in the movies. Men will drool over wealthy man’s cars and access to beautiful women.
Envy is an massive industry. But here, in this shot snippet from Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, we get an amazing insight into why we should not envy the elite, indeed, to a large degree we should pit them.
“For, the rooms, though a beautiful scene to look at, and adorned with every device of decoration that the taste and skill of the time could achieve, were, in truth, not a sound business; considered with any reference to the scarecrows in the rags and nightcaps elsewhere (and not so far off, either, but that the watching towers of Notre Dame, almost equidistant from the two extremes, could see them both), they would have been an exceedingly uncomfortable business—if that could have been anybody's business, at the house of Monseigneur. Military officers destitute of military knowledge; naval officers with no idea of a ship; civil officers without a notion of affairs; brazen ecclesiastics, of the worst world worldly, with sensual eyes, loose tongues, and looser lives; all totally unfit for their several callings, all lying horribly in pretending to belong to them, but all nearly or remotely of the order of Monseigneur, and therefore foisted on all public employments from which anything was to be got; these were to be told off by the score and the score. People not immediately connected with Monseigneur or the State, yet equally unconnected with anything that was real, or with lives passed in travelling by any straight road to any true earthly end, were no less abundant. Doctors who made great fortunes out of dainty remedies for imaginary disorders that never existed, smiled upon their courtly patients in the ante-chambers of Monseigneur. Projectors who had discovered every kind of remedy for the little evils with which the State was touched, except the remedy of setting to work in earnest to root out a single sin, poured their distracting babble into any ears they could lay hold of, at the reception of Monseigneur. Unbelieving Philosophers who were remodelling the world with words, and making card-towers of Babel to scale the skies with, talked with Unbelieving Chemists who had an eye on the transmutation of metals, at this wonderful gathering accumulated by Monseigneur. Exquisite gentlemen of the finest breeding, which was at that remarkable time—and has been since—to be known by its fruits of indifference to every natural subject of human interest, were in the most exemplary state of exhaustion, at the hotel of Monseigneur. Such homes had these various notabilities left behind them in the fine world of Paris, that the spies among the assembled devotees of Monseigneur—forming a goodly half of the polite company—would have found it hard to discover among the angels of that sphere one solitary wife, who, in her manners and appearance, owned to being a Mother. Indeed, except for the mere act of bringing a troublesome creature into this world—which does not go far towards the realisation of the name of mother—there was no such thing known to the fashion. Peasant women kept the unfashionable babies close, and brought them up, and charming grandmammas of sixty dressed and supped as at twenty.
“The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur. In the outermost room were half a dozen exceptional people who had had, for a few years, some vague misgiving in them that things in general were going rather wrong. As a promising way of setting them right, half of the half-dozen had become members of a fantastic sect of Convulsionists, and were even then considering within themselves whether they should foam, rage, roar, and turn cataleptic on the spot—thereby setting up a highly intelligible finger-post to the Future, for Monseigneur's guidance. Besides these Dervishes, were other three who had rushed into another sect, which mended matters with a jargon about "the Centre of Truth:" holding that Man had got out of the Centre of Truth—which did not need much demonstration—but had not got out of the Circumference, and that he was to be kept from flying out of the Circumference, and was even to be shoved back into the Centre, by fasting and seeing of spirits. Among these, accordingly, much discoursing with spirits went on—and it did a world of good which never became manifest.
“But, the comfort was, that all the company at the grand hotel of Monseigneur were perfectly dressed. If the Day of Judgment had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct” (Dickens 1976, pp 73-74).
But we all know that judgement day will not be kind on people just because they were beautiful, well dressed and powerful. Indeed, on those who have been given much, much will be asked.
Don’t be envious of the elite and what they have, because many of them have it because they have sold themselves to get fame, or connections, or money, or power, or all of these things. They have enslaved themselves to a system that offers them everything to entice them in, but gives them nothing they can take with them, when the system is done with them. Think of how men like Epstein were cast away when they were no longer useful, or how famous actors, famous for making us laugh, take their lives because they live in the pit of despair, surrounded by every luxury we can imagine.
They have believed the lie, that the devil gave to Jesus, ‘submit to him and he will give you the world.’ Only to find out that the devil is cruel with his followers. And the world of the elites is a cruel one. It’s all about glamour, money, fame, and the destruction of that which we all hold dear, our souls, and the beauty of the simple things of life, that God offers us.
This does not mean, that floating around in that high strata world, are some people who have stayed true to themselves, and not sold out, but they are the exception. Because that whole level of social strata is designed to corrupt you, tempt you, and get you to sell their lie and perpetuate their grip on power.
Don’t envy the elites. Like Dicken’s sit back and observe how truly corrupt they are, and how ill fitted they are for the day of judgement. As Mary says in Luke 1:51-53 –
“51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Don’t envy the elite, pity them, as you would pity anyone whose eyes are so distracted by glitter they cannot see their end. And trust in the God who promises to clothe you with the garments that count on judgement day, the garment of Jesus’ righteousness.
“3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” (Psalm 73:3, 17-19)
List of References
Dickens, Charles 1967, A Tale of Two Cities, Heron Books, London.
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