Cheers for this one on Dear Prudence today!
I am an attorney in my late 20s. I have no student loans and have a successful and challenging career. Many of my friends work for nonprofits or do legal service work. I donate money to their organizations and attend their events. I also contribute beyond the pro bono requirements that my law firm requires. Recently, I purchased a new car. I did not tell my friends or make a production of it, but once they found out, many of them made comments like, "You could have gotten X number of people off death row with that money" or "If you can spend that much money on a car, why isn’t it a hybrid?" I don’t want to sound like I’m lamenting the plight of the yuppie, but why isn’t working hard, paying your taxes, and giving back enough? Why should I have to defend my life choices when my friends simply chose other paths?
—Never Good EnoughDear Never,
If you decide live in a hovel, eat only canned beans, and replace your car with a bicycle, you could put almost your entire salary toward emptying out death row! Alternately, you could start cultivating some friends who are less self-righteous than the ones you now hang out with (who, I’m sure, aren’t so elevated that they refuse to cadge rides in your new car). You get no credit from them for helping the car dealers of America get out of their trough—although I’m sure your friends find businesspeople less worthy than convicted murderers. It is wonderful that your friends are using their degrees to help society’s most forgotten. Many of their jobs, however, depend on funding from people like you: taxpayers who make good salaries. You’re a lawyer, so you know that it’s a losing strategy to get in a colloquy that won’t advance your case. If your friends continue to diss your car, just say, "Sorry to hear you feel that way. I’m really enjoying it."