“I believe in aristocracy, if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky.
Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos.
Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.”
The word 'pluck' means spirited and determined courage. These days I think it might be best expressed as 'character,' or 'to be a mensch.
And it isn't often found amongst the financiers, or the one percent, or our pampered political overlords, with a few notable exceptions. There is something about power and money that softens a person's mind and moral sensibility.
They tend to become obsessed with themselves, and their special needs. They all too often are told what they want to hear, like the admirers do for beautiful women who lose all sense of their real worth. And so they lose the character that comes from remembering our common humanity, memento mori, and our own fallibility, weakness, and quite frankly, unworthiness. No wonder the parable about the camel and the eye of a needle.
Therein lies the root of tragedy. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity, as Yeats observed in 1919.