“it ain’t about the cha’ ching cha’ ching, it ain’t about the ba, bling, ba, bling”
Since I was quite young, maybe 12 years old I have been arguing with my father about priorities in life, arguing that “it’s not about the money”. I have argued quite vehemently that money isn’t real, it’s something that we humans have made up, something that we have simply attributed a value to rather than it having any inherent value of it’s own. My father failed to see my point.
When it came time to choose my doctoral dissertation topic I presented the idea to my supervisor, that this made up representation of value has such power over people. I wanted to study and understand the power of money, it’s lure and seductive ways, and it’s ability to lead people into neurosis. My supervisor failed to see the point (however that was 14 years ago and he has since acknowledged that it would indeed have been a worthwhile study…).
My point is, we have lost our way. I know that this is on the verge of becoming cliche among those of us who care to contemplate the nature of human society, however, we aren’t as a society acting on the underlying message, and so we will continue to say it. I am scared for my children, the level of material excessiveness that they will come to both desire and expect, the way that justice has been redefined to encompass the ‘right’ to lull about in this deluge of excess and the fact that many of us now believe that protecting this right is a perfectly valid reason to kill another human being, or indeed many other humans in acts of war.
So if we have lost our way, what is our way? What path should we be on if not the path to material wealth and/or wellbeing? Statistics show that people in the upper levels of socioeconomic status are healthier, live longer, report simply “feeling” better than those in lower socioeconomic positions, so what’s the problem? The fact is though, this path is not leading us to happiness, not leading to world peace, to people feeling satisfied with their lives, feeling fulfilled or connected. Of course this argument is based on the belief that the purpose of life is to find happiness.
Then again, the correlation between material wealth and enlightenment isn’t a strong positive one, I guess if it was the Buddha would have stayed in his comfortable palace with servants and banquets to amuse him between meditations?
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