Take Paris Hilton. Please.
We'd made a silent and meaningless vow never to type the words "Paris" and "Hilton" in the same sentence unless it was where we were planning to stay for the night.
But the incarceration of the chronically talked-about hotel heiress, whose misadventures don't otherwise amount to a hill of bean sprouts, is an opportunity to learn.
And the lesson is: This is what happens when someone has it too easy. You get a spoiled, troublesome, self-pitying, insufferable malcontent who is as superficial as cheap furniture polish.
In other words, life is meant to be a struggle.
Like years of raging water form the rough edges of a majestic canyon, hard work, difficulties and even suffering can shape us into things of beauty.
Of course, that doesn't mean it's wise to make things unnecessarily difficult on oneself. But neither is it character-building to have things handed to you on a silver platter.
"Hopefully, young people who look up to people like Paris will learn from this," Hilton's mother Kathy said - after having bitterly complained about the injustice of seeing her poor little darling sentenced to jail for violating probation on an earlier DUI conviction.
We don't much pay attention to Paris Hilton. We don't know why she's famous, except for being rich, svelte and snotty. But we do consider her the poster child for the dangers of vacuous overindulgence.
She may also be the radical Muslim's pinup girl for Western decadence and decay.
What would you do with her money? With her fame and her media platform? How many people could you be helping? How many poor could you be feeding and clothing? How many street children could be saved? How many schools and hospitals could be built with your largesse and your leadership?
Ah, but the problem is that you've first got to see beyond the end of your own chic nose. There's a whole world out there that, somehow, defies the known laws of attraction and gravity and doesn't revolve around your batting eyelashes.
We pray the 26-year-old Hilton will learn this someday.
She and her mother both acted as if her 45-day sentence in a "special needs housing unit" at a suburban L.A. jail - recently cut to 23 days, oddly enough for good behavior - was the end of the world.
Far from it.
If she plays her cards right, it could be the start of an entirely new, infinitely more meaningful, one.