Updated: Jul 24
One of the news stories that has been making the rounds here in Australia lately is the case of a missing Sydney businesswoman, Melissa Caddick. Firstly, a disclaimer—in Australia, legally, there is a presumption of innocence. Therefore, while we will be discussing some of the allegations against Mrs Caddick in this post, we are not and nor do we intend to imply that she is guilty of any of the allegations made against her.
Now, Mrs Caddick has made the news because of the alleged embezzlement of “tens of millions" of dollars from her clients, many of whom were supposedly her friends, as well as her disappearance on the 12th of November 2020. According to the New South Wales Police and her son, Mrs Caddick was last seen leaving the house at 0530h, one day after the Australian Federal Police in connection with an investigation by the corporate regulator ASIC raided her family’s home. She has not been seen since.
This matters because the case is a clear example of the pernicious effects that the pursuit of a false purpose can engender. When ASIC and the Australian Federal Police raided her clifftop home, they seized about 1 million Australian dollars’ worth of couture gowns, designer clothes, handbags, shoes and jewellery—all allegedly bought with her client's life savings. Now, I do not know Mrs Caddick, however, judging by the items that the Australian Federal Police seized when they searched her house, it seems likely that she was fixated on wealth or the prestige which wealth can provide over the things that actually matter.
By pursuing wealth, Mrs Caddick has lost her family, her friends and perhaps her life. What a poor trade for some pieces of cloth or a handful of shiny rocks. In order to pretend to be a ‘someone’, she is accused of harming those she was closest to in the world. I wonder if she ever stopped to wonder who she was pretending to be a ‘someone’ for.
This is a question we should ask ourselves when we are tempted to play the keep-up game. We all have a bit of the greedy, the power-hungry or the fame-seeker in us. But, unlike Mrs Caddick, we have a yardstick by which to measure ourselves. We, unlike the greedy, the vainglorious or the aspiring dictator, know the true purpose of life. We know that our Individual Purpose is to promote the welfare of our families and communities.
Utilizing this yardstick and the tools expounded on in The Code, we can judge clearly what Mrs Caddick could not. We can see that the prestigious job, expensive house, clothes or jewels which she seemingly valued so highly are really trifles compared to our family’s and community’s long-term welfare. So, next time you find yourself lamenting your lack of any of these things, stop yourself and ask instead, would this really contribute to the achievement of my Individual Purpose? You will be shocked by how often the answer is no.
Fame, power and wealth, while not bad in and of themselves, are often the handmaidens of a person’s destruction. Like the sirens in the old mariner tales, they lure the unsuspecting in with promises of happiness and success yet when they have caught them, they too often drag them under to their ruin. Mrs Caddick is simply the latest victim of these harpies. So, instead of following the siren calls so often echoed in the media and press, set your sights on what really matters—the welfare of your family.
If you do this, you will quickly see how little wealth, power or fame you actually need. If you realise that your family’s hunger is as satiated with a cheap meal as with that from a Michelin-starred chef, you will see the futility of the pursuit of wealth. If you look at how often the powerful are cast down through their inability to exercise power over themselves, destroying themselves and their families with greed and lust, you may recognise how empty external power is. If you listen to the lamentations of the famous and how they pine for anonymity, you may recognise the high price of fame and the meaninglessness of the approval of strangers.
Instead, look to the lives of the genuinely happy, those are lives of moderation. They have at their focus the welfare of their kin and community. They accept wealth when it comes without pursuing it, they exercise power with moderation and relinquish it freely. The opinions of strangers are less important than their own judgements. They have as their recompense secure wealth, power over themselves and the esteem of those whose opinions actually matter. What is more, they receive through their moderation the boon of real happiness.
If you would have this happiness, then practice the virtues and set your sights on the welfare of your family. After all, today could be your last day, therefore, live it well.
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