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THE CULTURE OF SUCCESS

by Gerry McCarthy

Recently, actress Meryl Streep was asked what she would say if one of her children announced they wanted to be an actor. "I think acting’s a beautiful profession that’s full of heartbreak, and you have to be ready for that. If you can’t do anything else, go for it."

     I was struck by Streep’s comments in two ways. First: a protective mother wanting her children to be spared heartbreak. But it was interesting that Streep also talked about the heartbreak of her profession –particularly when she’s considered one of the more "successful" actors of our time. After all, these days we only hear about actors when they’re making $10 million per film. Any financial hardships endured for the love of profession are no longer deemed interesting.

     North American culture today is enslaved to a certain standard of success. That standard is extreme wealth, status and prestige. It’s a state of captivity that shows little sign of weakening.

     In his excellent new book Snobbery: The American Version, Joseph Epstein
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