Monday, February 16, 2009

Infatuation with Wealth

(Happily ever after seems to come with a mansion nowadays)


A record of our time

I think when people look back at this time in history, they will look on with amazement. Not because of the technology or the people, but because of the decisions we made and the infatuations we had.

I've hinted before that this blog particularly serves as a window into the mindset of my time and my people, for future generations to poke at and analyze.

It also is used as a tool to analyze the philosophy behind a number of commonly held beliefs.

Today's topic stirred the inspiration in me like I haven't felt in months.


What brought on this surge?

(If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading now, Spoilers ahead)

I had read the summary for this movie a million times and it completely turned me off.
The summaries on Imdb and all the other popular sites are horribly off. By that I mean they barely touch on what the movie is really about.

Regardless I finally decided to see it today, especially after seeing so many positive ratings on a number of sites. The final blow before making this decision was my favorite movie rating site, which gave the movie a 96% approval rating.

So I watched it, and I enjoyed it a lot. The themes it hits on were amazing and not even hinted at in the summaries of the movie.


Philosophy finally starts here

So where did that magical inspiration come from? Why was so much background given?
What exactly brought on this particular surge?

A simple theme; Our infatuation with excessive amounts of money.

A lot of stories nowadays it seems, are riddled with this theme. The 21st century theme that The hero or protagonist becomes immensely rich and they live happily ever after thanks to this new found fortune.

It's so prevalent that we're seeing this trend start in societies and cultures that expressly FORBID this form of greed.

A religious movie, that I was invited to see ended with this exact theme.
Somehow the main character couldn't continue living unless he inherited a huge amount of money by luck or chance or destiny.

What is it with our society? Why can't we have a happy ending without someone becoming rich?
In the Days of Walt Disney, finding your true love or finding true happiness was the goal in the story. With Disney, when you had reached that peak, money was of no use to you.

What has happened to our goals? Why must our happiest endings today come with a rich bounty?

(I've touched on this topic before btw, in more detail about the greed part. Click here to read it)

Greed (Avarice)

Time and time again we've been warned by millions upon millions of people that greed is bad.
We've lost touch with that.

Here is a small window into the mindset of Wall street and mandatory bonuses given at the expense of the American tax payer:

WSJ Article "Greed is good"

TYT Discussion about it:

An eye opener:

I was told for the first time in my life that the never ending struggle for resources is not the way to ultimate actualization(Being the best you can be).

It's sad that my religion teaches this but our followers are so blinded by the need for resources, that they don't feel the need to rehash this point. They will rehash a million other things, but they seem to neglect their duties when it comes to greed.

I was reading the commentary(Tafsir) on the Quran when I came upon a passage said to have been narrated by the Prophet. It had to do with a particular verse asking Muslims to not desire this world too much. The Prophet reiterated this point in his narrative.

To summarize; it stated:

There were three people in this world (Ranked from best to worst)

1) There are those who only made enough to sustain their lifestyle without going into debt or making a lot of profit. These are the best of people, they find satisfaction with their life.

2) There are also those that are on this run for resources, will gain as much wealth as they can, but will also scrutinize every penny making sure it goes to good causes.
You'll routinely see these people donating to noble causes or financing other projects. They will be rewarded for the good that they buy and punished for the bad that they buy on Judgment day. They actively strive to do good in this world.

3) There are those that are also on the run for as many resources as possible. Yet this group will spend it how they like. These are not philanthropists and if they are, they are so in money only and will never give their time to good causes. They will spend how they like on what they like in exorbitant amounts.

My eyes had opened to a new reality:

  • Surely it had to be those that paid millions of dollars to charities and worked hard for them, that were the greatest people on earth.
  • Surely because I was in America, I was expected, more so than anyone else, to succeed where millions of others did not even have the chance to fail.
  • Surely I was to try and make as much money as possible.

Yet here i am, being told, that the greatest of people make modest amounts, are not accruing debt, and yet are also not rich.

If you are not American, you might not be able to grasp the severity of this problem because from the moment we start walking, we are told to make as much money as possible.

It is a constant run for resources, so much so, that some people forgo honest work in order to take less righteous paths to fulfill this goal.

Yet here we are being told, if you want to be the best you can be, do not run so hard.

What I took from the passage was:

1) Pay off what debt you owe and try not to go into debt.

2) Buy what you need to buy, that isn't exorbitant(excessive).
  • Home worth less than $400,000
  • Car worth less than $15,000
  • Computer worth less than $1,300
  • Make sure your normal bills are not extreme(example: buying $500 worth of clothes a month is too much.)
3) Be satisfied, don't want or act like you need to obtain large and insane amounts of money, especially to be happy.

I had never hungered for being rich before, so this idea wasn't a hard transition for me.

But I was now being told to specifically NOT go for large amounts of money.

Before it was, Do it if you can, but don't be so greedy, money in the end is worthless.
Make sure you use your wealth wisely and not at the expense of others.

Now it is, Do not strive for it, do not want to be excessively wealthy, and never worry about it.

Yet what is funny and truly ironic is that a religious movie I saw, matches the ending with Slumdog Millionaire.

An ending that does not walk toe to toe with the religion the movie was made for.


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