By Kenneth Justice
~ Have you ever been truly honest with yourself and acknowledged what your true measure for success happens to be?
What does success mean to you?
–) A big house
–) Expensive automobile
–) Early retirement
–) Public accolades
–) Becoming a celebrity
–) Being at the top of a fortune 500 company
We all measure success differently, although there tends to be a trend among women and men living in Western societies in that we often measure success as an extension of our personal wealth.
Money = success
Many of us would argue that money does not equal success, but when we consider what we think about the most…..money jumps to the top of the list.
What does it say about a culture that we tend to value wealth and possessions as a primary measure of success?
Hey, we can say that we don’t measure success by money and our personal possessions; but when we find ourselves spending the majority of our time working and logging in more consumeristic hours than other cultures….well I think the facts speak for themselves.
Western societies tend to consume; that is we tend to buy, buy, buy…..or to put it another way; spend, spend, spend.
–) Gotta buy the new Iphone
–) I need to buy the new tablet
–) I wanna buy a new car
–) I’m gonna get a new outfit
–) It’s time for another new pair of shoes
Working in the human service field I found that I was more likely to run across people who were more likely to spend too much money rather than people who were more likely to save too much money.
Statistically; even though we often have the ability to save our money…..we usually don’t; spending it is far more fun!
A good friend of mine blames the media for our spend-thrift ways; “It’s entirely the media’s fault for influencing people to live consumeristic lives; the media needs to be stopped!” he tells me.
My friend is something of an anarchist who believes that the only way to help people is to stop the ‘things on the top’ which are influencing people to live a certain way.
I don’t think anyone denies that advertisements, the media, etc. attempt to influence our spending habits…….but that doesn’t mean we should outlaw advertising…..does it?
I think many of us realize that we could be saving more………but Western Culture is in many ways is designed to live a lifestyle of ‘spending’ that to do otherwise would be rather odd…..wouldn’t it?
I spent yesterday afternoon talking to a man from Yugoslavia. He is a first generation immigrant to the United States and was explaining to me the most striking difference he had observed since moving to America,
“At 4:00 every day in my hometown most all the workers finish their vocational duties for the day and men, women, and children gather together in large groups of friends, cousins, and families to share meals together for the rest of the evening. Our days were not geared toward luxuries or entertainment but were focused on getting to 4:00 where we spent every evening enjoying each other’s company”
Such is life in a more communal culture……but as sociologists will tell us there are definitely drawbacks to living in a communal culture.
Yet, this man who left everything to come to the United States because of the poor economic conditions in his homeland……spends everyday of his life dreaming of moving back.
“It is a much harder lifestyle here in the America” he told me, “Even though I make so much more money by living here in the States, my cost of living is so much higher that I often wonder if I did the right thing in moving my wife, children, and parents here to the U.S.”
There is something to say for living a more simple life.
But then again……perhaps our way of life is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about it.
–) Perhaps people like me shouldn’t complain about our consumeristic tendencies here in the U.S.
–) Perhaps I should be more accepting of the way-of-life we have created for ourselves
–) Perhaps I should stop looking at other countries and comparing our way-of-life to theirs
–) Perhaps I should just go to the store and buy something to get my mind off of all of this
What I do know is that I’m due for another cup of coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society