Now that the “holiday season” is over and done with, life starts to return to “normal”, whatever that means for you, please allow me to pose a thought that seems to be a recurring theme in my life – what defines you?
I seem to be surrounded by people who are constantly encouraging consumerism and conformity, to some degree or another. What do I mean?
A person close to me has constantly insisted that I should have a car, “… because people think that you’re poor if you don’t have one.” In my youth, I had many cars and even a 4 X 4 that I actually used off-road in mountains: I even had two vehicles at a time, and a motorcycle – a 11oo cc. motorcycle that straight from the factory went from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds – two houses in the suburbs and much more. For me, these were not things that defined me, others may have defined me by my possessions, but for me, they were experiences that I lived and at the time, enjoyed.
Now days, a vehicle still brings “social status“, likewise for cellular phones and computers. Clothes have always provided a semblance of social status and the same is said for your residence. Where you vacation and how you do it. Social status for many is the pinnacle of self accomplishment. Compared to the masses, I know very few that get what they want merely for need or selfgratification.
Property refers to the sum total of one’s possessions, as well as their regular income. It goes beyond income as a measure of social class, as it reflects wealth accumulated (e.g., homes, stocks, bonds, savings) in addition to one’s earning potential. Property is a better overall measure of social class than income, as many individuals who are considered wealthy actually have very small income, and those with less property tend to have less power and prestige.
So, here we are with another set of questions:
- Is money the root of all evil?
- Is having possessions bad?
- How much is enough?
- Is the social status we gain by possessions positive?
- Is the gain of social status via greed honorable?
There are more questions I can pose, but let’s review these briefly.
Is money the root of all evil? My answer is, no. Money is one of the two things that people value so much, but was not in the creation process in any scripture. Money is just a tool – a tool that can help, hinder or kill. It is the conscious thoughts, then actions that make this tool what it is. On the negative end of this thought, there’s a song that came out in 1973 that speaks – ok, sings – about the evils of money – you decide.
Is having possessions bad? No. Like money, possessions are tools and how they’re used makes their perception good, or bad, but the fact is, they’re just objects. Too much of anything is wasteful and creating possessions has to come from somewhere, so how many possessions must we have before we consider the destruction of our home, planet earth, to be too much?
How much is enough? In a society built around capitalism, i.e., consumerism, there never seems to be enough. Someone I know usually responds to my sense of frugality by stating, “Don’t be so frugal, the more you use, the more we have to buy, and the better the economy will be.” Can’t we do with a bit less of everything?
Is the social status we gain by possessions positive? No. If you’re importance in society is built around your possessions… how long will you have said social status if one of our increasing “natural disasters” removes your possessions? How about if the government seizes your possessions and income, then you’re left with little; then a thief takes what’s left? It can and has happened.
Many ancient societies, and I’d dare say, a few remaining indigenous groups still find the “natural leader” in their children and groom them for leadership responsibilities upon becoming an adult. Knowledge and wisdom are qualities that can’t be stolen.
Is the gain of social status via greed honorable? No. To gain status while slandering, putting down, lying about another is FAR removed from honorable. If who and what we are can not stand up and shine without the aid of money and possessions, then the important question is, who and what are we? If we’re only measured by what we have… which can be taken away or destroyed, then where is our value? What is our worth based on?
Now that we’re in the year 2013, a year many thought we’d never see, put aside your fears… ALL OF THEM and reassess your self-worth. Make yourself a better person, which will in turn, makes those around you take notice…
All the best – always!