A Martin Luther King quote said the richer we become materially, the poorer we become morally and spiritually. It added that we have learnt to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish but we have not learnt to live with our brothers.
Thinking in this same line of thought, I realised that I hardly hear people blend their life goals with none material things that are the essence of living. Character, love, happiness and integrity are hardly listed as part of people’s life plans. What we hear of is what is set to be acquired: cars, houses, fancy job, money, a bride or groom and fame.
In the same vein, I always find it amusing when I hear people consistently mourn about the self-serving nature of our leaders and prominent figures. What I find funny is I see this mentality in the ordinary person day in and day out. Ideally, the ordinary person looks at what they stand to achieve and gain from something, regardless of other people’s needs, which spells lack of integrity.
The sad thing is the world has come to a point where acquiring material worth
or cash is considered as the ultimate manifestation of the self. The assumption is that as long as someone can amass as much wealth as possible, then they are a force to reckon with. That is why we are letting murderers, rapists and thieves get away because their material value forfeits any of their painful shortcomings.
What has come to be more alarming is parents that give their children too much material things before building them as a person. I mean seriously, what does a nine-year-old need an Ipad for? And why are you letting your 14-year-old drive a Mercedes with a fake licence? But I guess wealth can buy anything regardless of the moral implications that follow.
Many a time we hear women rate a boyfriend by how much material assets he can provide within a day or a week. The ideal boyfriend at this point is someone who can provide everything needed for a woman to have a fancy lifestyle; he should pay the rent, buy credit, buy food, buy shoes and accessories, pay for lunch and dinner every day, take you and your friends out, spoil your mother and sisters on Mother’s Day and Christmas with lavish gifts and the list is endless.
Unfortunately, most men just follow the script and do what is expected. They splash their money around and do not bother to do much else that is not materialist. Oftentimes, I have seen men who buy their wives fancy cars, lavish furniture, all the scrumptious food for the house but they are never at home and they do not spend quality time with the wife nor the children. They believe that providing all the material things cuts it.
However, I believe there is a lot more to life. Do not get me wrong, having all the money and assets can be great but it should not lead to too much poverty in other equally important departments in life. For one, children in a family need a parent that is present and not just an ATM machine. And the country needs leaders that actually do their job by caring for the ordinary citizen and not just ‘cashgating’ at any given opportunity.
I think character is a very integral part of a person’s life and effort must be invested in it. I do not see myself respecting someone who knows how to sum up material wealth but fails to treat his brothers and sisters like human beings equal to him. I do not see myself respecting a woman without integrity who will go at whatever lengths to accumulate wealth but fail to take care of those closest to her.
And what of building self worth and a lifetime solid reputation. I am sure a few names will pop up in everyone’s head at the thought of people who have lost everything because of little self worth and a washed out reputation. And most importantly, a few names will also pop up at the thought of people whose reputations have manifested their legacy; Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and it had nothing to do with material things. May their beautiful souls rest in peace.
And on that note, I rest my case…
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