What drives a normal human being to senseless levels of materialism? Can someone, please, explain to me why any person feels the need to buy a 15-bedroom house with 8 toilets, a swimmingpool, sprawling yard with a tennis court…at a cost of $15 000 000 when they are just a family of one?
What makes a person spend $800 000 on a 2-door car? Even if they have money, what motivates a person to want such obscene material properties that are far beyond the necessities of life? Is it the need to strike awe in others, the hunger to be feared, respected, have others idolise you? Peer pressure?
Yesterday I had an innocuously combative yet rich discussion on the same subject with a friend of mine who posited that this urge to have more and more is prompted by visual factors such as the type of cars our friends, colleagues, neighbours are driving or the houses they live in coupled with the need to be part of the ‘successful’ crowd.
However, when I asked my friend what of his individual principles and moral constitution: to do, behave, own and live according to their own moral code? He had no immediate, non-circuitous answer.
I then asked him if it makes sense to him to blow $1500 on a bottle of cognac knowing there are children dressed in tattered, threadbare clothes who are begging for food at the shiny front door of the posh restaurant he is patronising who would go to bed on an empty bellies? Surprisingly, he was equivocating in his reply.
People who spend their money in this obscene fashion will, as an excuse; tell you, and in a defensive mode, that they have toiled hard to be where they are today. However, they do not need to try so hard to exhibit their achievements in the form of material things they do not actually need. What about compassion for those who are living in reduced circumstances; the unfortunate ones?
That sense of community? How much are we donating out of our own accord and not because we are forced by legislation as part of our corporate responsibility?
There are those ‘successfuls’ who reckon that people who are poor are so because they are stupid. In Afrika where I dwell many people do not have tertiary education and it follows that family household incomes are meagre. This is mostly attributed to colonialism by European countries who viewed Afrika as a source of slave labour and minerals to develop their own countries. It is the 21st century but many Afrikan families have only one person with a college education for the first time in many generations. Some have no one to show as a token of education. Is this because they are stupid? No.
Education, especially, tertiary education is punishingly expensive in many Afrikan countries and this makes it inaccessible to many high school graduates from poor families who do not receive scholarships.
Still you will find some people here, in the midst of grinding poverty; who would be cruising around in expensive Range Rovers whose monthly instalments their monthly salaries can barely sustain just to keep up appearances. What human defect is this?
Does it make you feel good inside to possess what you, most definitely, are certain your ‘arrogant’ brother, sister colleague, and/or neighbour wants but cannot have as it is beyond their financial wherewithal?
Humans are strange animals.
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