Jake had read earlier that day it was a good idea to go over finances with his spouse, but the issue posed an uncomfortable hassle for him. He wanted that iphone, he wanted that boat, and he knew that he had to amass even more debt to pay for them. The idea of saving his resources for another day was wholly foreign to his mind, preferring to just take on more equity on his appreciating house. Jake could confront his poor financial decisions now, but instead he brushed off the discomforts of introspection and turned on the TV, which he and his family would stare at until curfew.
Question: who the heck are Jake and Kelly? Answer: the average, miserable Americans, gripped in the thongs of consumerist culture. If you thought my little story was exaggerated, you would kidding yourself. There is no society more materially fixated than America, as the consumerism embedded knows no bounds. The average American spends every dime he makes, and more, saving for nothing. It’s the mentality of short-term gratification and pleasure at the expense of everything else. You would think that America, being the wealthiest nation on earth, would provide enough consumption goods to satisfy these degenerates, but you would be wrong. The problem with wealth is that its beneficiaries can never get enough of it, because once you give them these toys, they develop an insatiable lust for more. Americans are stuffing themselves with spoiled mammon, only to die of their own gluttony.
American culture, as opposed to the American economy, has nothing to offer the refined individual. It’s a joke. The average American has no appreciation for the fine arts, being content in swallowing the morass of cheap Chinese-made goods. The soul-draining dirtbag that passes for culture provides nothing but circus and bread. Nothing lies in their minds besides the products they see on the commercials. It’s not about who they are as people, the quality and substance of their being. No. It’s about what they have. Americans pride themselves with their values, but they have immolated their interests on the altar of materialism, bowing to the idols of mammon and overindulgence.
If Americans spent half the time laboring to improve themselves as individuals as they did consuming material goods, they would all be Renaissance men by now. And that’s the problem. Short-sighted consumerism takes time, effort, and is ultimately unrewarding. These energies could be spent on the finer endeavors of life, like improving oneself as an individual.
You want to rise above the pack? Extricate yourself from the throes of free-dumb society and crass consumerism. Create, produce, refine, not just consume. I was deeply moved by the part in the movie Titanic when the lower-class Jack (Dacaprio) talks to the smug seniors of his girlfriend’s family. He said that he was set as long he possessed a pencil and drawing paper. He didn’t need all the material possessions Americans will die before giving up because he was content with something of a higher quality, something transcendent, something that required a higher level of consciousness and was thus ultimately more rewarding. Likewise, do something creative. Play a musical instrument. Write a lot. Learn how to paint. Wood-work. Pick up gardening. Join a book club. Read the great works of literature. Think big ideas. Learn the Alexander Technique. Take up toastmasters. Play board games with others. Invest more time in love, friends, family and relationships. Embody the virtues you admire in your heroes. Try to make yourself into the best person you can be. Forgot your material welfare. When you arise in the morning, look forward not to the things you can buy but to the things you cannot, the immaterial blessings that separate humans from the apes. To use a food analogy, don’t impel motion into your life by eating chips, ice cream, or dope, for those things are nothing but cheap and poorly-rewarding gratifications. Instead, eat the fruits of life and the meat of strength, with all their wholesome nutrients and enduring satisfaction.
Left to their own devices, people will inevitably take the path with least resistance, which is why consumerism is the well-worn path. Altering your lifestyle to emphasize the transcendent over the material will not be easy. Some of your friends will laugh at you; others will even resent you, for there is nothing more threatening to a weak person’s sense of self-worth than seeing another man rise above the same miserable and unsatisfying conditions of their own life. But this path, the one less taken, will ultimately be worth it. It will imbue within you a sense of purpose, a drive, a motivation to be a better person, an avenue to find your affinity with nature, and means to reconcile yourself with your being and your Creator. That is what life is about.