A recent comment by George prompted me consider an important point about Old Money culture. He inquired about how Old Money should respond as the middle class begins to imitate its style and behaviors.
My though is that there should always be an Open Door Policy.
That is to say, anyone who wants to embrace the values, priorities, and habits of Old Money should receive a warm welcome from those of us who already do. Not that the doors of the Somerset Club will soon be thrown open to the newly-minted.
That’s not what I’m talking about. There are social aspects to Old Money culture and there are philosophical aspects to it. The philosophical–namely ideas–is much more important.
We all should endeavor to be inclusive and generous when it comes to sharing worthwhile ideas. Exposure to ideas changes lives permanently and often for the better. Education is one of the avenues in which this happens, and education takes many forms. Sometimes it’s a classroom. Sometimes it’s a book or blog.
So when someone unfamiliar with Old Money Core Values learns of them, we should be supportive as they learn about them. Of course, there is a limit to how much proselytizing one can do on the subject: if people embrace a new philosophy for any length of time, they do so on their own terms, in their own time, and for their own reasons.
It is impossible to convert them, but it is unfair to exclude them. When someone expresses an interest or has a question about something Old Money, I think we’re obligated to provide a measure of direction or information with a well-considered response. We must strive for a balanced hospitality.
And I must say, over the years that we’ve had this blog, so many of you have done just that. Readers have inquired, and the responses to their questions have been thoughtful, insightful, and polite.
I really appreciate it, and I hope it continues. We are, I’m proud to say, a sanctuary of civility and moderation in a blog world full of acrimony and dogma.
As it should be. We will never persuade others through bombast, accusation, or insult. We simply have to set a good example and keep a light on in the window.
There will always be a weary traveler eager to find a philosophy that resonates with them and a community that welcomes them.
So let’s keep it Old…and keep it Open.
14 thoughts on “The Open Door Policy”
Well said, Byron, and thank you for being welcoming. I came for the philosophy, not the clubs (wink). If you open Paul Fussell’s book, “Class”, you will see our very middle-class house described in great detail. My husband and I went to an Ivy League college, but we don’t share that with anyone unless specifically asked. Our home is furnished from thrift stores, and I fill in the gaps with eBay or Etsy. I wear my smartwatch that was a gift from the in-laws. We can’t afford private boarding school for our children, but we read about stoic philosophy, explore the classics, and help them pursue their hobbies, whether it’s horseback riding or skiing. No personal chefs or fancy restaurants, just homecooked meals. We talk about money a lot: making it, saving it, investing it, and getting a good value.
Inwardly, we embrace the Class X attitude of, “I’m freer and less terrified than you.” I’m still fascinated with the royal family, but I hang out with farmers, carpenters, and regular people with regular jobs. I enjoy being under the radar as much as possible. This is all to say that I appreciate a place to discuss and learn OM ideas.
Very well said. As we all know the Category X is the only way to escape the class we were born into. Thanks again for the great comment!
The thoughtful, insightful and polite tone of the blog has been set by you, Byron. You deserve the credit for that. I was going to say that, given our heavily commercialized and consumer oriented culture, I don’t think that more than a very small percentage of the population will ever adopt the old money values and lifestyle, but after reading EssleyBlue’s comment, maybe I shouldn’t be so sure. I think “under the radar” is a pretty common OMG characteristic.
Yes, it is impressive that Byron has been able to build a community here and through his books, and that such like-minded people feel comfortable here to express themselves. The fact is, OM are not going to publicize as superior their way of life or feel the need to “promote their personal brand” as is recently popular. It is even less likely that OMGs would try to win others to their way of thinking, preferring to lead by often oblivious example.
I find it intriguing to listen to someone I’ve known for awhile and hear a small detail about them that underscores why we have such a connection! Even then, it is not really discussed, but sometimes there is just a small smile of understanding.
“…a small smile of understanding.” Well said, Elle. Hope you’re well. Happy holidays. – BGT
Thanks, Amy. I hope you and yours are starting a very joyous and safe holiday season. – BGT
Very well put!
Friends say I am tighter than the skin on a grape. One of my rules being, you must only spend the income never your capital from investments.
Your blog makes me think of a great expression I learned in America.
“ You can attract more bees with honey, than you can with vinegar.”
Perhaps we should modify it to read:
“ You can attract more WASPS with honey, than you can with vinegar 😜”.
Ha! Yes, I’ll have a WASP logo designed and then explain that we don’t care if our club members are caucasian, Anglo-Saxon, or Protestant, or not. Hope you are doing well. Have a safe and joyous holiday season. Let’s talk before the end of the year. – BGT
I appreciate this sentiment, I have always had Old Money Values, even though I did not know the name for them. I currently do as well, I am a single mother about to graduate with my masters in psychology and will be entering the workforce soon. I do not accept drama, I do not date men who have no ambition, and they do not meet my children.
I look forward to working again, and to living a much higher lifestyle than I do now. I have read all of your books (except the one about how to dress for men) and they echo what I have always observed as I have worked with wealthy people in the past.
I also have a unique social mannerism that most people in my current friend group do not. I however, believe in Zig Ziglar’s old saying “If you’re the richest and smartest person in your friend group, you need new friends”. We should always endeavor to challenge ourselves, and I look forward to joining groups and societies as I work and can afford to and as I make the connections. I have had friends tell me “When you start working as a psychotherapist you will be elevated socially like a rocket”. My friend has experienced this, I will be working with a group that sees a higher economic demographic and I look forward to learning about them. She is already invited to Friends of the Symphony meetings, etc, which I plan on enjoying as well.
Thanks, Teresa. Keep us posted on how things progress for you. Happy holidays! – BGT
Byron, thank you so much for this post. I fully agree. The more people share the values, the better.
There is a different perspective to my question, though, which I was unsure to ask you about… People who may have more money, but clearly not the values, and treat one condescendingly or sarcastically. Mostly I don’t care, considering from where it comes. But sometimes, I concede, it really annoys me.
Does this ever occur to you?
The way that people treat those whom they see as below them reveals so much. The money-without-the-values people are prone to treat staff badly, and they seem to see this behavior as a sign of elevated status!