The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
In America, wealth and the attributes of wealth (expensive things, owning many things, the company of people who are superficial, etc) are glorified more so than all other things. Money is the ultimate indicator of success and the aim of success is defined by the accumulation of wealth in America and other countries that follow the “virtues” of Capitalism.
The older I become, the more I’ve become quietly dissatisfied and at-times contemptuous over the banal and meaningless of the pursuit of wealth and earthly things. This notion one might expect to be voiced by the Christian world over; but I have experienced hypocrisy and ignorance in every Christian I meet, rejecting one of the few good aspects of the Bible while practicing self-righteousness to those who are not monogamous, are atheists or people of other faiths and in general are attracted to what I find to be the more petty and egotistical aspects of the Bible (believing that one will not die and that God created the Universe in-part with a design for one in mind being the main two). I don’t want to be contemptuous however.
I don’t want to judge, I don’t wish or aim to condemn. Instead, I want merely to grow as a person through reflection and spending time honing my craft as a writer and philosopher. But I at-times am pained by the monotony and small-mindedness of most-people, who spend their whole lives long concerned over so much nothing. The aims of this material world are built on a foundation of sand; even in our modern age of convenience and luxury, despite the fact that satisfaction of desire comes more quickly and potently than ever before, contentment and serenity are just as difficult to come by – if not more seldom for most due-to modern technology being by its nature to create a constant smokescreen of distractions, which distracts the mind from its best parts and instead creates so much fodder to make people passive but not peaceful, sedated but not content, pleased but not happy, entertained but not enlightened. Schopenhauer and the Buddhists, despite their faults, are wondrous in conveying this sentiment, and I recommend them perhaps more-highly than any other philosopher or philosophy to someone who wants to read writings depicting a awareness of and substitute for our modern contemporary consumer existence.
But I return to the question which I never truly asked: What can money buy me? Can it buy me love? Fulfillment? Purpose? Creativity? Intelligence? Perhaps it can give me the means to those ends, yes, but by-en-large the nature of money is nothing but that of enslavement. Both to those who have it, enslavement to it and enslavement from lack of it in our Capitalist society. We are wage-slaves to the rich who own the resources we work on, and that they profit from. We are enslaved by currency-based society to take joy and pride from meaningless material commodities, to spend our whole lives long concerned with obtaining and spending cash for things that produce petty pleasures that will not last. We are also enslaved to money by a lacking of it. Most people who are poor and in want do not escape consumer culture, instead, they are merely the losers of said game and feel want of pleasure-items, the status said items and lifestyle bring and first and foremost in want of having the basic means of existence met and the ability to pursue a future for one’s self (particularly if one is enlightened and sees past the error of Capitalism – and instead wants to earn a degree and live by what one does rather by what one has) and a potential improvement of one’s self that one cannot afford to buy. For though money cannot buy greatness, in our society without Positive Liberty in-regards to secondary education, money is required to cultivate the limp flowers of our ignorant and pleasure-seeking populous.
I don’t want to buy and I don’t want to be bought or sold. I don’t want to be consumed by a marketing company cross-checking my attributes to see what cross-section of the demographic I fit into. I don’t want to be presented as an image to others to be impressed upon and either accept me or reject me by what I represent or embody as a carbon copy of. I don’t want to be another person who acts without living and lives without acting. All I want is to not be chastised or ostracized for exposing my genuine self, I don’t want to be wanted, I just want the opportunity to be me every moment of my life and not pay a price for it. But we do have to pay a price for being ourselves (we who have any real “self” to offer) and though it may feel steep at times it will never be a fraction of the gains created by the risk and rewards of being ourselves and knowing we have nothing to hide and nothing to lose – for the only thing we value is something that only we can deprive ourselves of.
We will not last. This world with its bounty of greatness and richness in suffering will not last. But this being accepted as inevitable means both so little and so much for those of us who actually were in the sense of being ourselves and living, exploring and creating rather than performing, regurgitating and consuming. We must accept the fundamental and irreversible nature of our deaths to live a life of honesty with ourselves and by being sincere coming to know, create and build a self.
The only thing money can buy me is an escape from myself. But I want to explore this world openly and genuinely, and to do so I must be me – I cannot sell myself and I cannot buy things to lower the intensity of living and being a person. Instead, I, and we all, must focus on our own virtues and live a life of activity and yet a life of asceticism and renouncement. We must consume only so we can grow and create, rather than creating only so our end-goal to be consumption and destruction. Socrates voiced a similar sentiment: Worthless men live only to eat and drink; virtuous men eat and drink only to live.