I’ve never been a big fan of The Police. Let me clarify right away that I’m talking about the rock band, not law enforcement officers. Sting’s musical stylings have just never impressed me the way they have many music lovers, and quite frankly the man himself has always kind of irritated me too.
I think my distaste for him began around the time he was promoting one of his solo albums years ago, and he gave a series of interviews where he just couldn’t stop bragging about himself. I know it’s not unusual for successful people to have a good sized ego, but Sting clearly seemed to be his own biggest fan.
He boasted of how long he was able to have sex, and how great of physical shape he was in (while a video of him performing Yoga, clad in what appeared to be a infant’s diaper, was shown in the other half of a split-screen). He bragged incessantly of his musical talent and talked about religion in a condescending way, making it clear that he was essentially ‘above’ faith. It was so brazen that it nearly came across as a Saturday Night Live parody.
When it was revealed in one of those interviews that his former band-members in The Police sometimes got into scuffles with him before live performances, and essentially beat him up, part of me could understand why.
Anyway, I’m writing about Sting this week because he recently made a bit of news when he revealed to a UK publication that he doesn’t plan on leaving his vast fortune behind to his children after he passes away.
“I told them there won’t be much money left because we (he and his wife) are spending it! We have a lot of commitments. What comes in we spend, and there isn’t much left,” Sting said. “I certainly don’t want to leave them trust funds that are albatrosses round their necks.”
It should be noted that a lot of Sting’s money goes to charity.
Sting said that his kids didn’t need his money, because they have a work ethic that makes them want to succeed on their own merit. He added, “People make assumptions, that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but they have not been given a lot.”
Now, you might think that I’m going to point to such comments as more evidence of Sting being a self-centered individual, but to tell you the truth, I really liked what he had to say.
I like that he hasn’t left his kids with a sense of entitlement, and I like that his kids have a strong work ethic and want to achieve their own successes in life. I’ve long believed that self-reliance plays a huge role not just in the growth of a person, but the growth of society as a whole. A strong work ethic gives one the tools to succeed, and that’s a lesson that should be taught to kids by their parents.
Few understand this lesson better than Sting. He’s a rags to riches story, having left a broken home at an early age, and starting with nothing to pursue a better life for himself. He clearly understands the value that comes with years of hard work, and he’s not at all ashamed of the wealth he’s achieved through that work.
He shouldn’t be ashamed. He should be proud. And that’s what I believe he wants for his children – for them to have pride in themselves.
We could use some more of that in our own country. In recent years, the rhetoric of our nation’s leaders has sadly led the way in moving our culture away from admiring wealthy people for their successes and aspiring to follow in their footsteps. We’ve instead gone in the direction of vilifying the rich. We now mock them as “one percenters” and marginalize them as being “out of touch.” In reality, many of them started out with far less than we did. It was countless hours of commitment and hard work that changed that.
It seems to me that when we adopt the mindset that we have to be born with silver spoons in our mouths in order to be successful, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that’s not a good thing for society.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not against the principle of people leaving their fortune behind to their children, but when you’re as wealthy as someone like Sting is, the act is nothing short of life-changing. I would argue that by instilling the importance of self-reliance in his children, Sting has given them a far greater gift than what was given to people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. They’re heirs to fortunes who will likely never have to worry about money, but they’re also widely recognized as hopeless dolts who are respected by few.
Which legacy would you rather have for your kids?