In recent months, I’ve noticed that ‘traditional American values’ and ‘the preservation of our culture’ are being referred to in political discussions more often than I think is appropriate. I’m sensitive to it because the focus of this blog revolves around the Core Values of Old Money that I talk about in The Old Money Book. I also explore (and advocate) the ‘culture’ of Old Money: living below your means, dressing and behaving modestly…my long-suffering readers have heard it all before, and will probably hear it again.
But I need to insert some clarity here, as I received an email from a young man in South America. English was, I believe, his second (or third) language, and understandably the nuances and more complex meanings of phrases and words confused him a little.
He wanted to know if the culture of Old Money was a part of the ‘culture wars’ that were going on in the United States. He also wanted to know if the ‘traditional values’ I talked about were code words for segregation, racism, and hatred that he’d seen in the news.
I responded via email, using my trusty Google Translate page in lieu of my rusty Spanish: I wanted nothing lost in translation. He received and read the email, and responded with relief and gratitude.
Now, I’ll share with you what I shared with him. And it’s typically blunt: I don’t use code. I don’t dabble in euphemisms. I don’t tolerate racism. I don’t tolerate sexism. And the only elitism that really interests me is how hard somebody can work, how much they can elevate the quality of their life, how much of that they can pass on to their children, and how much good they can do for their community and their country.
I’ve travelled a little, and I know Old Money people from Asia, South America, Africa, and France, as well as my brethren here in the United States. Despite different languages and skin colors, they all think, act, dress, and behave in much the same way. That’s why I call it a ‘culture’. It’s not code for American White People With Daddy’s Money.
Secondly, the Core Values that I promote are good for the goose and good for the gander: rich, poor, Latino, Lebanese, it matters not. These principles benefit (and challenge) everyone alike. They are equal opportunity elevators. They are not politically correct hate-speech for saying that people of different backgrounds can’t share the same values. They can and they often do.
So don’t let others’ use of similar words or phrases create confusion. While you may have to try to interpret and decipher their code words and hidden meanings elsewhere, you won’t have to do that here.
Old Money speaks plainly. And so do I.
26 thoughts on “Old Money, No Code”
Very well put Byron! This is why I feel as if I know you, that you are a friend, familiar. Straight talk/no misunderstandings. Clear and to the point! It’s how I was raised and how we have raised our son.
Thank you, Jane. Much appreciated. – BGT
Thanks, Phillippa! – BGT
It’s true, the current American media seem to delight in making divisions and classifying people. “These type of people exclusively believe *this*” It is real nonsense, and so terrible that much of the world sees this portrayal of the U.S. The country is actually made by those who came here with nothing, and honest work, perseverance, and good character are still valued in every person here who exhibits these qualities. We can make it clear to those around us –
especially impressionable young people- when we see this admirable behavior in others, and that is the best way i know of to change the atmosphere of division. Observe the first generation American family you see, with well behaved kids and parents working multiple jobs. They are admirable. Talk to people when you are out, and share a laugh. Don’t spend your time with people who disparage others.
Finally, watch the Olympic Games over the next weeks. It’s not bad TV! It shows how similar people are to one another. The expressions of joy and encouragement look the same across the world.
Thank you, Elle. Great observations. Well said. – BGT
Yes, as usual, Byron, very well said. This is why I love reading your work. And a point I would like to make is that while you speak plainly and bluntly, never do I find your words to be offensive or aggressive. There’s a difference between bluntness and offensive. I wish I had the vocabulary to better define what I mean, but perhaps you understand. In any event, a great post.
Thank you, Bev. I hope you’re well. – BGT
Thanks, Bev. Hope you’re well. – BGT
Unfortunately, this kind of transparency, honesty and direct speech, is less tolerated and discomfiting than euphemisms and placating in today’s America, where I find people easily offended by anything that they disagree with, even when it isn’t aggressive or meant to be offensive.
George Orwell put this was:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Very true, Sherri. It seems like thin skin and thick opinions are the order of the day. We’ll be patient. Thank you for commenting. – BGT
Hi Byron – I wanted to second Bev’s thoughts about your books, blog and You. I have never found you to be offensive in the least. Nor have I ever thought of the old money values you convey as “code words” for some form of elitism. I’m sure this was just a problem with language barrier. I’m glad you were able to set our South American friend straight and that you have hopefully won another convert to the old money culture!
All the best!
Thank you, Keith. The admiration is mutual. Keep up the good work. – BGT
I never was offended by this blog and incredible book but see it as a lesson in living life in a humane, decent and straight forward manner. The straight forward talk is much appreciated.
1. If I meet someone new I don’t worry how to act since I know implicitly it will be with decency and respect.
2. When I think of the future I don’t worry because I know I will not retire. (My favorite photo in the blog is Kieth Richards Not retired)
3. My meals are home cooked eaten properly with civil conversation
4. My worn in Al Eddies are comfortable along with my well worn oxford shirt
5. I look at my wrist and my watch just works, no worries about impressing. (Timex with a cloth band)
6. My car just works with a low overhead cost. (FYI Subaru Outback is the number one old money car)
7. Nothing like quiet reading nooks in the house.
8. If I disagree with a politician and I come into more money due to a tax break I just increase my charitable donations.
9. Finally my child and my family are number one in terms of what I think of.
The books and the blogs are a much needed lesson in living the good life.
Thank you, Bob. Well said. A great list for a quality life. Really appreciate you sharing. – BGT
Right on with your list above, except we like our old Volvo and old Toyota.
Wow, Bob. Byron couldn’t have said it better, and I don’t think he would mind me saying that, even on his blog. He knows how much I like his work!
Not at all. Well said! – BGT
Then more direct the speech, the more trustworthy the individual. People who speak in euphemisms or “creative” language are generally insincere. Your direct tone is always welcome and never seen as too blunt, rather necessary and appropriate.
Thank you, Dario. Hope you and the family are well. – BGT
It was only after spending a few hours reading many posts and noticing a consistent lack of “the code words” or “those people” innuendos that I bought Byron’s books and became a devoted theoldmoney book.com fan.
Byron, this post is much appreciated, thank you.
Thank you, Mary. You’re very kind. – BGT
Here is some homework for those of you who feel superior to other people. 3 day exercise to embrace humanity.
(For day 1. If you don’t keep technology at your house then use the library with headphones.)
1. Go on to youtube and listen to a video (eyes closed please) called Pale Blue Dot.
2. Go outside at night look up and take 3 or as many as you like delicious deep breaths. There are people dying with lung disease (rich and poor) who can’t do this. Hospitals call them breathers.
3. If you are healthy. Go to an ice cream parlor and have a have a gooey delicious hot fudge sundae. My priest was telling about how he was with a sick child who could not even eat a spoonful of yogurt.
Extra Credit: Contemplate on the fact that the 9/11 memorial museum has Stanley Thermos bottles on display that were used by Native Americans steel workers to build the towers. In the wake of tragedy even the most
frivolous of objects can have a deep meaning.
Appreciate life. Humanity is bigger than any self imposed cultural elitism people may have.
Thank you, Bob, for a great comment. Thought-provoking and on target. Much appreciated. – BGT
I think there are unspoken indicators of OM, but the real thing we are getting at is confidence. As Tully has so simple presented in his book, there are a set of values and living practices that can be indicative of OM, or aspiring OM. We can be above the fray, but sometimes we choose to get in the fray as OM greats like FDR. It’s really about culture, not race. Racial distinctions are simply nonsense, however cultural differences are real.