Sunday, May 22, 2011

Money cannot buy you love or happiness

The opposite of greed is generosity. Generosity goes beyond money. It is not just giving of your financial resources, it is giving of yourself. There have been so many people throughout history that could have settled for an easier and prosperous life if they had just gone along with the status quo. Look at the Founding Fathers. Probably every single one of them could have gone along with being residents of the East India Trading Company's colony and probably lived quite comfortably on their payroll if they had just shut up and went along with British policies. They pushed their chips all in and gambled everything on the idea that all men are created equal. Yes, this didn't include women or slaves but at the time, this was still a radical idea. They were the progressives of their time and if things hadn't turned out as they did, they would have probably been swinging by their necks in the breeze.

It seems that in this day and age, generosity has taken a distant second to greed and narcissism. Generosity is celebrated but how often is it ignored in favor of entertainment that celebrates greed? Look at all of the TV shows which fawn over celebrities, their massive "cribs" and meaningless lives? Where are the "reality" shows featuring people doing good for others or helping the less fortunate up and into better lives? There are some but you have to look hard for them. I'm not saying there aren't good people, some Hollywood stars out there who give more than they get. However, for every show I see that celebrates charity, there are five or ten that idealize greed and becoming rich at the expense of others. Look at the "reality" shows that require the eventual winner to manipulate and screw others in order to take home the prize. Why do these shows succeed so much? Because they appeal to our basest instincts, the seven deadly sins.

The "seven deadly sins" are, or should be, a concept for people of all religions or lack thereof. Whether or not you believe in Christ, the Golden Rule is a universal, basic concept of decency. Treat other people as you would want to be treated, it should make perfect sense to everyone. Everyone it would seem except, sociopaths like Ayn Rand and those people, especially politicians who have embraced her philosophy which is in complete opposition to that Golden Rule.

So often I see politicians helping out those rich people and corporations who always seem to need just one more tax break and then we'll all have jobs. I say forget "trickle down" politics, let's try "trickle up" economics. How about a little humility and sense of responsibility that should come with great power and wealth. How about receiving attention for philanthropy instead of philandering? Instead of buying another mansion, how about buying land for a public park? Instead of buying a new yacht, why not use the same money to promote conservation? Instead of another private jet, how about funding public transportation? Take the money you would have used for a new vacation home and buy some admiration instead by building a shelter for homeless veterans.

When it comes time to meet The Reaper, we all go the same way home. At that point, all of our riches mean absolutely nothing. What I do believe is that what good you do in this life, whether you believe in a God or not, counts for something. People like Bill Gates and other philanthropists will be remembered fondly for their generosity and sense of human decency long after they are gone. Sadly for those obsessed with wealth and power, they won't. How do you want to be remembered?


  1. Well said....and thank you for saying it.
    Rev. Sandlin

  2. Great post, thanks.

    I saw a bumper sticker a few weeks ago that said "All I want is the chance to prove that money doesn't buy happiness."

    It would be interesting to see some statistics that compare income to volunteerism.