Yesterday while talking to a good friend,(I won't mention names but you know who you are) they mentioned that their spouse told them that they seemed to only befriend "poor people". This not only struck me as odd, but it was also a bit insulting, and a very sad way to view people. This person's generalization has no real justification or means to back it up, other than someone not living in an oversized $250,000 home with the perfect manicured lawn. I can't imagine viewing people soley based on what they own, I just can't.
When thinking about this statement, I asked myself, what is money? Does it have any real value? Leaving politics and economics out of it, what IS money worth? What do we get from it? Why do we NEED it and WANT it?
Look back in time when the industrial revolution brought hard working people from farms to the factories. These people left a self sufficient lifestyle to work for a wage, rather than a living. Rather than work their own land for the things they needed to survive, they took a job and a paycheck to BUY what they needed. With this, the local general store grew, and we even saw the uprise of company stores where people for the most part exchanged their labor time for goods. They worked for them, whether it was for money or for goods. Either way, they were owned in the simplest of terms.
With the people moving from the farms, there grew a need for goods. Since these goods were no longer produced locally by those who were now working the factories, they had to be shipped in from elswhere. With the introduction of canned goods, people stepped away from their family farms and gardens, and had to purchase things they once grew for themselves. These goods, whether canned, fresh, or bulk, were shipped in from out of state, making people more dependant by the day on dollars instead of its own agriculture. As needs rose, smaller farms closed while larger ones flourished. (sound familair?) Beyond food goods, people now bought many other things that were once made in the home. They bought clothes, blankets, furniture, and all other things for the household that generations before them once made for themselves. They no longer made their own clothes,quilts, or made furniture from trees cut on their own land, they bought them. These people were not only slaves to their workplace, but were now slaves to the allmighty dollar.
As factories and cites grew and grew, more and more people fell into this life. They paid for apartments, small houses within a house that they paid for yet never owned. They paid for transportation to and from work, whether it was a horse, or later a motor vehicle. They had to outfit their home and keep food on the table, which meant more labor hours and more money. It was a trap, and they all walked right into it. The industries and the dollar had these people in a firm grasp and didn't let go, and they still have that grip on us today.
In times since these lifestyles started, generations were raised with the same mindset: go to work,get paid, buy what you need. At first, it was basic necessities. But it didn't take long until people fell into luxuries. A few extra hours could get that nicer armchair, or that fancy oriental rug, or that motorcar. With the introduction of electricity came the appliances, none of which were a necessity, but a luxury. We soon bought electric stoves, lights, and all the things we know today.
After World War 2, people had money to spend since the war somewhat boosted the economy. Someone got the idea of putting a giant bunch of cookie cutter houses together in one area, and call it a neighborhood. People by the droves flocked to the idea like kids to a candy store. One by one, they bought the houses and filled them with all things luxury they could. Up popped the well manicured lawns and garages as fast as the houses could be built and sold. People had to work harder, or work more hours to get these things, never thinking twice about the total cost. They all got newer and nicer cars, better appliances, prettier flowere, and many other things not needed to sustain life. They fell into the old "keeping up with the Jones'" cliche, once again enslaving them to the dollar.
Those small housing developments of the 40's and 50's appear tiny compared to the ones we see today. Those humble houses just aren't good enough for the Jones' anymore. They now flock to $250,000 or more private developments, pushing them to a better career and more, you guessed it, dollars. We live in a society where the dollar means everything, and a mans hard labor means nothing more than a paycheck.
And this is what brings this all back to me. Sure, we have debt, we owe money on things like the house, car, and a loan. we aren't debt free. But I don't want to be one of those people that works to get more "stuff". I want to be comfortable and do for myself. I don't want the big fancy overpriced house with 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a family room, living room, and a great room. I want my simple house to do what a house is for-to LIVE in. I don't want to have to work long and extra hours to get something we don't need to survive. I don't want to be a slave to the system, making more so I can spend more. I want to live simple yet happy, providing Lisa and I with as much as we possibly can from our own land. Such a life is far from poor, it's rich in life and experience. I'd much rather live in a simple home and work my own land for food than work long, hard hours just so I can sit on the porch and smoke expensive cigars while I look over all the things that I own.
I have no desire for the latest fancy SUV, for the newest $3000 flatscreen tv, for the lawn that looks like a gof course, for the vacation home, or for the latest trendy clothes.I don't want to live to show off things I have bought or to flaunt what I have an you don't. I want to live for life, love, and happiness, not for the dollar. Some may see it as poor, but I see such a life as being rich in my heart. Thats all that matters to me. As long as I have what I need to survive, I'm a happy man. I love life far too much to put any price on it.
Now to end this overly long post that I never intended to actually write. Sometimes things come to me in a moments thought, and this was one of them. Sometimes things I hear or things that are said to me stick in my head, and again, this was another of them. When you finish reading this, get in your pocket and grab a dollar bill. Flip it over and look at that symbol on the back. That's not a pyramid folks, it's an anchor,and it holds all of us down.
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