Rags to rags in three generations

| 08/11/2013

Meaning: The first generation in a family makes money (goes from rags to riches); the second generation holds or keeps the money; and the third generation squanders or loses the money (and so goes back to rags). Although this expression as defined above is not a rule per se, it is a generally accepted principle that may occur if due care and attention is not taken to ensure the wealth and entitlement is not taken for granted in future generations. 

And although this expression as defined relates strictly to a family situation, given our history from ‘rags to riches’ here in Cayman can be said to have startedapproximately 40-50 years ago, it could be said that we are indeed now in the 3rd generation and therefore heading back to ‘rags’.

Although perhaps a little dramatic, I think it’s fairly obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention that we’re now squandering (or perhaps I’m a putting too positive a spin on this and in fact it’s all already been squandered!) the vast wealth we amassed here in Cayman – and I’m not just speaking to the vast financial wealth that we have previously been blessed to have enjoyed but I’m also suggesting that wealth as pertains to our reputation is also now suffering alongside our finances or lack thereof.

Although none of this is able to be ‘fixed’ overnight, it is a crying shame that we took the hard work of those who came before us seemingly for granted. What I find the most upsetting about being in the situation we now find ourselves in is that there really is no good reason to be in this situation and the only reason I can see is that we got greedy and we got lazy and we assumed that our ‘product’ (whether financial or tourism related) was so desirable that we needn’t bother maintaining it. We assumed it was a license to print money, which we seem to have freely done.  We didn’t think we’d have a rainy day so there didn’t seem any good reason to put anything aside for the mythical rainy day which is now upon us.

I am ashamed to have been a part of this as, despite my utter disappointment that we do find ourselves in this mess, I cannot sit here and say that I haven’t benefitted from the excesses of our past. We are leaving nothing for the next generation except a string of excellent examples of what not to do, and so perhaps we’re leaving them with something quite valuable after all.

I do live in hope that we will stop nurturing the sense of entitlement that has taken root in our society, an attitude perfectly summed up after a near miss with a hurricane some years ago that went on to devastate some of our neighbours when someone was overheard saying that ‘we had been spared because we had been set apart because we were special’. This is an outrageous thing to say given, if you look at it from the angle of our neighbours, we are essentially saying we were better than them, hence more deserving of being spared. We cannot continue to think ourselves so special anymore; we’ve proved that we really are no better than anyone else and perhaps less deserving given the blessings and opportunities we’ve taken for granted and squandered.

We need to pause – take a moment to reflect on what’s gone before and think sensibly about where we’d like to be and be realistic about the work it will take to get there so that we can break this cycle and not end up back in rags for the sake of the next and subsequent generations.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This artilce is timely and well put.It seems that this country and its people have come 'so far so fast' that we don't know what has hit us.We may be better off financially but oh! the squander of or morals and ethifcs.The value of hard work has gone out the door by some.In the past Caymanians would have scorned the very act of expectting handouts from Government, service clubs and other organizations.I have nothing against giving to the poor and needy as giving to the poor is a scriptural mandate. At the same time the 'good book' tells us that if we are too lazy or too proud to work,,,that is sin and we deserve the consequences I agree wholehaeartedly that we need to stop nurturing the sense of entitlement that is so rampant and get back to the strong work ethics that we once taught to our children and an ethic that we held on to for dear life.We can be thankful for being spared the wrath that some of our neighbours have endured, such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc but our being spared has nothing to do with our goodness. It all has to do with the mercy of the Almighty. I agree that we need to 'pause, look back, make amends and go forward striving to be the best we can be in all areas of life. I long for a refresing  of ' the way we were',

  2. Anonymous says:

    That explains exactly where Caymanians are today.  What is the next phase and will they ever get back to the first one ever?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well written article, I hope that all generations of Caymanians will read it.  I trust that the young will follow your sage advice.  Again, thank you, to those that are too greedy and believe it cannot or will not end take a moment to reflect, learn from the past, correct the present and secure a better future.

  4. Anonymous says:

                    For a while I believed you were chastizing us because you cared   However when I read the line "I do live in hope that we will stop nurturing the  sense of entitlement that has taken root in our society,followed by "We cannot continue to think ourselves so special anymore; we’ve proved that we really are no better than anyone else and perhaps less deserving " I realized that you really do not care very much for Caymanians.I believe that we are all special  and just as deserving of blesssings as any other people.Perhaps you are one of those who believe that foreign is better and that expats are more deserving of (or entitled to) the riches and blessings that have been accumulated here.I beg to differ.           I will however agree with your final statement and say "We need to pause – take a moment to reflect on what’s gone before and think sensibly about where we’d like to be and be realistic about the work it will take to get there so that we can break this cycle and not end up back in rags for the sake of the next and subsequent generations."  I am confident that we as a people will survive this bump in the road and move on to  an even greater future.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a definite example of what (and who) is wrong with our society!

      Nowhere in the article does the author say anything about Caymanian or Expat. While there are many expats that have done well (financially) so there are many Caymanians. And the same can be said for the many who have squandared much…both Caymanian and Expat.

      And you are also wrong in your assumption that we are so special that we can't return to rags. Many a fool has thought that way. "A fool and his / her money are soon parted".

      Pray tell what makes us so much more special than others in our World?

    • Anonymous says:

      I am gonna have to call u on this! The idea that no person is more deserving of opportunity than another is total BS. It is wasteful to give opportunity, spend resources or give effort to people who are not willing or not able to make the most of that opportunity. What does that mean for us? It means that we are AS SPECIAL as everyone else on this planet, yet the statistics tell us we are amongst the wealthiest in the world (more special) but despite what the statistics are telling us we continue to have a society that appears to squander wealth and opportunity. 

      Ex-pat is not better – correct! Every person is as deserving of love and the basic human rights as the next. But only the hard working, smart, well educated and the lucky deserve wealth. If you are caymanian and any of the above then you will do well in this world, the statistics tell us you will be one of the wealthiest people in the world. Take your blessings and run!



  5. Anonymous says:

    I blame the love of (or should I say the lust for) money.