To paraphrase the Bible:  What does it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? The inference? If you are spending time and energy accruing material things and become obsessed with acquiring and possessing, you atrophy spiritually. Not a nice prospect; devastating actually. For when your daily goals are determined by your fixation on things that have temporary meaning and worth, you undermine spiritual activities, spiritual growth. This is a tragedy!!

But oh so easy to succumb to when you participate in a market driven economy. Capitalism is an effective system. Make something; offer a service; put it up for sale. Gives many an opportunity to use their talents. Provides employment. Astounding variety meets needs and wants. America is awash with an array of things, with all types of services. Nothing wrong with that … EXCEPT … many get caught up in the world of material things. An inordinate amount of time and energy is spent in pursuit of more ‘stuff’. Obsessions flourish … often at a young age.

It is astounding to watch the minds of children being ‘raped’ by insidious advertisements. These attract and indoctrinate the young into becoming avid consumers who easily obsess on acquiring. This undermines their creativity. Why should they bother to devise personal playthings when they can shop at the toy store? And ‘forget’ about being a responsible member of a family. Building bonds of togetherness, setting and accomplishing common goals:  these age-old familial activities are ignored. They have become anachronisms that cannot compete with the “I want it for ME now” attitude. Having what’s popular drives many youngsters who are more intent on making good impressions than truly interacting with their peers. Many vital, ‘living skills’ are not developed:  listening, reflecting, empathizing, accommodating … to name a few.

If you have any doubts about the state of young minds, just ask teenagers what they want. A few will look forward to an education. Most will proffer a ‘wish list’ of items. Very scary and very sad:  being obsessed with things, thinking these will make one happy, that acquiring is what life is all about. What a waste of youthful potential. What an effective preliminary to a life spent in selfish pursuits.

Greed, covetousness, possessiveness have been condemned for millennia. Why? To avoid conflicts, maintain the peace. Don’t want a few people hogging all the ‘goods’. The ‘have-nots’ will revolt. So sharing and the equitable distribution of essentials are encouraged. But there is another reason to frown on selfish, frivolous attitudes. An individual exhibiting these can easily develop a hardened, empty shell. Very unattractive. For inner beauty withers. The absence of kindness and considerateness is evident in a face fraught with frustration and scorn. Anger is directed at a ‘world’ that never ‘delivers’. Momentary acquisitions leave one only wanting more … and more. Meaningless ‘quests’ roil in a beleaguered heart. For an individual ‘entwined’ with ‘matter’ is always at odds with a spirit needing love. And the joyful, sharing moments of youth become a sad reminder of what could have been.

Certainly you have legitimate, earthly pursuits:  a house, a car, nice clothing, items you find attractive. Nothing wrong with that. But remember:  NO THING in itself will ever sustain joy, happiness or peace. You are a spiritual being and though you can appreciate, relate to and ‘handle lots of stuff’, you can only find fulfillment in that which lasts, in loving activities that help you grow.

So always put the things of ‘this’ world in perspective. What you deem to have merit, enjoy. What works to improve your life, use. Occasional wanting and acquiring is fine. Just be careful to avoid obsessing. Never become possessed by your possessions. Their efficacy is brief. Your spirit is forever.



©2007-2008 Edwin O'Shea and All or part of only one topic, including all definitions and essay, may be used without written permission. Please see full copyright notice on home page.