Thursday, November 4, 2010
Would you rather be wealthy and ugly, wise and sickly, or beautiful and stupid?

I refer to this as “championship edition” because my friends Mick, Sam, Sarah and Brian would often play the classic party game Apples to Apples by divvying up all of the submitted words into pairs and then evaluating the pairs against each other (and the goal word) in a tag-team championship type battle.  Anyway, as for the actual would-you-rather question, I found I had an answer immediately to this, but I wanted to explore my thoughts on the matter more deeply.

Being weathly means, essentially, having a great deal more (and better) opportunities in life.  Rich people are able to do what they want, when they want, within certain bounds, and those bounds expand if you are willing to plan ahead.  Convenience and removal of financial fears are certainly useful, but to me they are not essential – I feel like I am capable, through the exercise of my will and my intellect, to achieve however close to wealthiness I desire in my lifetime.  Having it magically granted to me (at cost, we’ll talk about that in a sec) doesn’t seem like huge upside – and I admit, I might be overestimating my own abilities or taking for granted the wonderful position I have in life to be able to say the above statement of capability.  As for ugliness, although I don’t think this is as harsh a penalty as it appears (har har), it would be annoying to have the aforementioned opportunities opened up by wealth to be closed by people who care a great deal about looks.  I am not the most beautiful in the world, but I would also not be okay with being in the lower ugliness levels, just because of existing bias in our culture.

Beautiful and stupid is kind of the flip side of that coin – I think being beautiful (handsome?) would open up a lot of doors and grant a wider range of opportunities, but the cost here is prohibitive.  I define myself by my intelligence, and to have that taken away is essentially like killing the important part of Dave Guskin.  Unacceptable, and the tradeoff here is not worth considering from my point of view — what’s the point of more/better opportunities if you are unable to take advantage because you are dumb?

Wise and sickly is the choice I’d make here, but it really is great cost for great gain.  Health is very important – I often have trouble focusing or being productive when under the weather, and chronic sickliness sounds like the extreme and terrible version of that where getting things done is a huge task each day.  However, I think I’d be able to eventually train myself to accomplish great things in spite of the personal obstacle of sickliness, and the wisdom (or intelligence, both would be awesome) I’d get in return would be huge, allowing me to create, solve and do way more than my current feeble brain is likely capable of!

Whew – that went long… how about you?  What would you rather?