Originally, I was planning on naming this article, “It’s Okay To Want Wealth, But It’s Not Everything.” Then I realized I had it backwards. People no longer need to be told that wealth, or money in particular, isn’t everything. We all are well aware (and beyond) that money isn’t everything. But in fact – money has a bad reputation around these parts; nowadays not only is it “not everything,” but also, we are told, “the root of all evil.” That’s quite a bold claim. Not just a twig of evil, a branch, maybe even the trunk would do, but the root, the very source of all that is and ever was evil!
Let’s think about this statement for a minute. If money is the root of all evil, then what justification could I ever have for wanting any of it? Does this make me a bad person? Something worse?! People like to say, “Money changes people.” This is portrayed in your classic Hollywood flick: some poor, kind person strikes himself rich (usually through his own sheer effort, but sometimes its just a lottery), then he abandons all his old friends, buys a condo in Florida for ten million or so, and spends the rest of his dough on drugs and prostitutes into eternity. We hear it all the time: money changes people. What does this mean? How does money do that? If I hang around this money stuff too long am I going to morph into some kind of demon? Scary stuff. I wonder what Freud or Jung would have to say today about our collective and subconscious fears regarding that little green piece of paper.
But let’s face it: most of us want money. And I don’t even mean in that “well we need money to get by and feed our kids” kind of way. No, deep down we love the stuff – the more, the better! We claim to be thankful for having the ability to provide food and shelter for our family, but life wouldn’t truly be fair without those couple of TVs, the computer, DVD player, ipod, and that Xbox360. Are we a little sick? Only if we lie about it.
We have all become hypocrites. We tell others one thing, but desire the things we shun. It happens a lot, I surely can vouch for it happening to myself. The economic collapse was equally a result of human greed as it was human envy or human “entitlement”. We hate people with money, but we want to be in their position. That’s cognitive dissonance if I’ve ever seen it. Can’t we just be honest with our feelings? Here let me go first:
I have always been a bit more open about my dreams than others. I don’t tell people I want just a little bit of money, I want a lot of it! I want a big house. I want to my living space to be a work of art. I want one room to have a beautifully designed wooden floor, a carpet with the design of a mandala, along with a row of meditation cushions. I want another room to be a huge fish tank so it looks like you are submerged under water whenever you walk in. Another I can completely dedicate to pillow fights. Then I need some place for my future collection of exotic music instruments, and another next door to display all the expensive art and photography I’ve purchased over the years. Private jet? Sounds good, I hate flying commercial. Movie Theater? Yeah, and all the newest releases will be at my house. Basketball court? Hey, I got to stay in shape…
I could write a whole book of the things I would like to do if only I had the money. Sound greedy? Selfish? Capitalistic? Or am I touching on something that is inside all of us? I think I am. What do we have to be ashamed of? I am not claiming we should chase after all of our desires, or step on anyone to get what we want. I am just saying be honest with yourself. You have dreams don’t you? There is a difference between being suppressing our desires because of social connotations or taboos, and being aware of our instincts and temptation, acknowledging them, perhaps even in a public domain, and even making some of them into goals.
Money is OK…good…maybe even great sometimes! Why settle for a mediocre, just barely satisfying job when it is not what you want for yourself, when it is not that true comfortable living that you deserve? That is something I may never understand, no matter how long I live. What about the cliché “you only live once, so make the best of it?” I know, it’s not helpful advice, but what are you doing with yourself? Why wouldn’t you plan to live a prosperous life? Isn’t that what freedom is all about? The American way? Even capitalism? Why ride on people’s shoulders? There are no promises, not even by a government entity – make things happen for yourself. If money is evil, it is because we are not showing it enough love. And I mean real love (the love for what it is), not the kind that is obsessive, delusive, and makes you distasteful to others.
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