Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's important in your life? Money? Love? or else...

Living in a materialistic culture, we were taught of the importance of money at a very young age. While I’m watching my kid grows everyday, the first group of vocabulary that he picked up is ‘noun’, like apple, car, carrot, etc. He did pick up the word ‘money’ when he sees us picking out a dollar bill from our wallet, but as we know that dollar notes and coins are not ‘hygienic’, so we don’t really let him touch them in most cases indeed. The second set of vocabulary that he picked up is ‘verb’, like sleep, sit, eat, and drink. Those are relatively closely tied to our natural human needs. So, he could start to tie those nouns and verbs together, like ‘eat tomato’, ‘drink juice’, etc. I don’t think we intentionally taught him about the verb ‘buy’, but somehow, he picked that up this ‘concept’ recently. I guess it is because when he was brought to a supermarket, when he ran around and picked up bags and boxes here and there, we took them from his little hands and put them back on the shelves saying, ‘we don’t need this’ and ‘we don’t need that’, we might say ‘we already have that at home’, somehow slipped our tongue saying ‘you want to buy that? Where is your money?’ I guess that’s how he picked up the verb ‘buy’ and it is linked to ‘money’. Though, his concept of dollar figures is still at a very prelim level, he can quote figures, but doesn’t know what exactly that is and what can be done with that amount of money. Well, in these days and age, I don’t think it will take him long to figure out that.

Certainly, my wife and I also teach my kid about ‘love’. Man! What an ‘abstract’ concept! Neither can it be count or be visible! We tried our best to demonstrate how we love him; somehow I think he gets it. Maybe, he ‘feels’ it, or he somehow put an ‘equal sign’ of love to a bunch of activities, like give him what he wants to play, what he wants to eat, spending time playing with him, reading books to him, etc. Any of those actions alone doesn’t equal to love, put them together doesn’t necessary 100% equal to love neither. One thing that we have ‘sometimes’ missed, is to tell him that we ‘love’ him. I guess with words and actions together, that would be much clear to him. However, don’t you think that it is kinda weird to say ‘I give you a bread because I love you’, or ‘now, dad is reading to you, it is because I love you.’ That sounds ‘odd’ to me. However, I guess somehow mystically, kid can interpret someone’s whole package of actions and words together to judge whether that person loves him or not.

As we grow older, we don’t hear people saying ‘I love you’ very often. Maybe it is a cultural thing, or simply that we don’t love people easily. Should we say more? I’m not sure, cos I don’t think it should be said unless you really mean it, otherwise, it would be very sad if ‘I love you’ becomes another ‘good morning’. Cos, it is hard enough to express love simply by actions as I mentioned above. Those actions don’t equal ‘love’. It would be weird to say ‘I love you’ all the time and use it as a ‘stamp' to label our actions as a result of love. I think that’s why it is always a challenge in ‘love education’, not just to kids, but to adults as well.

On the contrary, seeing the value of ‘money’ is so much easier! Just go to any shops, there are price tags everywhere. In fact, this thing are made so simple that even for ‘Math-haters’, just be able to count the money you have, hand them to the cashier, you will be able to take whatever is for sale home. Since we are not able to live on our own or on barter, we live in a capitalistic society that is run on commerce and everything has been attached with a price tag for transaction purpose. Up to a point that, a lot of things that are not supposed to be valued, like ‘history’, ‘fame’, ‘reputation’, ‘culture’, ‘relationship’, ‘education’, ‘health’, including ‘love’ are also being quantified and priced, and in many cases, in ‘distorted’ way, I think that is just sad.

Is it our fault that we priced everything? I think it may have something to do with our ‘greed’ for money. Cos, most tangible things have prices, I get that. You can calculate the costs related to labor, mining, equipment, transportation, cutting, processing, marketing, sales payroll, etc for the production of a diamond ring. However, why you sell that to the world as an equivalent of love to your love one? ‘A woman’s best friend?’, ‘Diamond is Forever?...Maybe! scientifically speaking, but so do most materials! That’s simply a case of 'exploitation' of 'weak' minds for the sake of charging as much profit margin as you can. Discarding the blood and sweat of illegal mining, and the environmental destruction of mining itself, it is just a classic case of human greed. There are similar examples that can be put in the same context, like the destruction of old relics and historical places in the name of ‘redevelopment’, defamation of people’s reputation with rumors and false accusation in the form of tabloid reporting for the sakes of sales, and so on. The worst part is that many people have become ‘desensitized’ of these things and regard them as ‘normal’, that’s simply tragic.

Nevertheless, are we urban beings that helpless? Come to think of it, I remember there is a ‘game’ or ‘method’ that I came across in some psychology studies that may offer some hints….you may come across such setting as well…it is a way of selection and ranking by comparison. It doesn’t quantify items for you or give you any formula to value them, instead it let you quantify yourself in your mind based on your personal experience or value. Firstly, you list out your processions including both materialistic items and intangible things. Two items are then picked for exclusive selection each time, they are put on a symbolic scale that one side must tip for its greater importance, e.g. your car and your wife. Though, many men claims that their car is their wife or second wife, for most people, they will choose their wife over their car unless they are about to divorce. So, after rounds of comparison, including those are lost in previous rounds, as you can still weight whether you prefer to have your car, or your camera, etc. At the end, you will end up with a list of items that ranked by their importance in your mind. Certainly, the list can change over time, so does their ranking, but some people would be very surprise by the outcome, as they would realize many things that they think are very important, don’t rank very high on their list. I think this game can be used as tool for ‘self-realization’ for people who are a bit ‘lost’ or ‘depressed’ in their lives to refocus on what’re really important to them.

At the end, I just wanna say that price of a thing changes, it won’t stay the same forever, it is just a ‘NUMBER’. Just look at the following:

It is REAL! I didn’t make it up. It is a result of “uber”inflation, taking into consideration of exchange rate and all that. Again, it is just a ‘NUMBER’!

So, what matter is the value of ‘thing’ in your heart. Yes, it may still change, but at least, that’s more in tune with your own ‘subconscious’ mind than being valued by other people who have their own agendas or self-interests.

Actually, my thought above may sound kinda ‘unusual' from me, a person who always self-claimed to have an objective and logical mind. Anyway, I’m still a human being after all.


Anonymous said...

accidentally bump into ur blog and find this well written + thot provoking post!

will come bk to read more of ur interesting posts

keep up the good work!

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