For some time, I was concerned about the car I drove & other nonsense I now find to be of little importance. At one point, I wore two carat diamond studs in my ears, but have downgraded to a less ostentatious quarter carat. In the end, it’s not going to matter how big my diamonds were or whether I drove a Ford or a Ferrari. That’s not what will determine my worth.
The status of a person is not how much money they have or what they do for a living — the real importance of a person is how they treat everybody, particularly the people who are deemed lower than them in society. I’ve figured out what it’s all about. For me, the only thing that’s going to matter is that I lived my life to the fullest and did everything I possibly could to help those around me in need.
I’m not saying I’m giving away my worldly possessions to feed the hungry & care for the sick; I like to spend money like everyone else. However, I know my limitations, and choose not to exceed them. Judging by our generation’s conspicuous consumption, not everyone shares that sentiment.
We try to stunt, living beyond our means causing more debt & superficiality. According to the Federal Reserve, over 40 percent of U.S. families spend more than they earn & a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report claimed 93 percent of Americans will retire financially dependent on the government, family or charity.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor; however, we should be aware that rich people are not happier & adding wealth to your life does not increase a sense of well-being.1
“Instead of amassing Benjamins in our pockets & bonds in our portfolios, we should be spending our money on what will actually make us happier.”2
For each of us, that will mean something different. Personally, I love the idea of socio-capitalism. I’m not saying those who can support others should do so. It’s their money & they should be able to do with it what they want. I do, however, think it’s messed up when people base their life’s worth on the amount of money & possessions they’ve accumulated instead of realizing the number of people they could have helped. If all I am concerned with is gaining material goods just for the sake of saying I have this or that means a problem exists & there’s a disconnect with reality.
As the disparity between rich & poor grows, the wealthy becomes less inclined to pay taxes that benefit the average person & the rich get richer, the middle is not raised and these differences compound themselves. Materialism then becomes a threat to the unity on which any well-ordered, democratic society is based.3
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
- Will Smith
2 University of Southern California economist Richard Easterlin
3 “Sick of Poverty,” published in the December 2005 issue of Scientific American by Robert Sapolsky
‘J. Dakar On’ is a monthly commentary feature on Concrete Loop. In 500 words or less, J. will offer his personal thoughts and opinions on political or social issues/events. Click here for contact info.