Ask high school students what they want to do when they graduate. “Make money” is often their reply. Why do so many have this attitude? They must believe that ‘making’ money is a legitimate goal, that having money will be their ticket to happiness and that it is a criterion for success. So they set out in a quest for the ‘rewards’ of labor not for what they might be adept at doing and what will be personally fulfilling. “How much do you pay” is often their first question when seeking employment. Not “what will my duties be”  They might prepare themselves for a particular type of work, a ‘field of endeavor’. Attend a trade school or college. Become an apprentice. But most often ‘making money’ remains their primary motivation.

Is this necessarily a ‘bad’ thing? This attitude does motivate. It is not unusual to see young adults working two jobs 60 plus hours a week. They are being productive. Society benefits. Their income, most if not all of it, is cycled back into the economy when they pay for goods and services. The way capitalism works. But what about individuals who find themselves compromised? In a job they truly do not enjoy. Feigning enthusiasm. Spending hours that soon add up to years laboring in hopes of acquiring more money to buy more things. Accomplishing little other than doing what is necessary to achieve their goal.

A cynicism emerges:  a common, stoic belief that most people hate their jobs but must do them anyway. That’s life. Listen to a radio talk show on a Monday:  “We will get you through the week. Just stay tuned.”  And Friday:  “Rejoice, the weekend is here.”  How exciting: you can now leave your job and play. What many live for. A rather sad commentary on the ‘mind set’ of workers today.

This becomes a little more ‘frightening’ when you consider those in normally ‘caring’ professions:  Medicine, education, religion and even law. If what they can earn is their primary motivation, what about their clients’ wellbeing? “My fee is $3,000.”  “Can you pay?”  “Good, I will proceed.”  This does not inspire confidence. It is cold-hearted. What could and should be a genuine concern about another devolves into a superficial accommodation. The professional might be nice but the graciousness is feigned. Parting you from your money is their goal. Whatever happened to values? Commitments to educating and healing? To safeguarding the welfare of others? Has the drive for acquiring money obliterated them? Unfortunately in many instances it seems so.

And this elevation of money to the ‘highest purpose’ plays havoc with knowing and appreciating true ‘values’. For ‘worth’ is measured in money. The more you pay the ‘better’ it is. If a service or an item has a high monetary value then it must be ‘superior’. This is a common fallacy. Many physicians who cut back on their practice are often inundated. They raise their fees and people believe this doctor must be the best. A painting by a famous artist may be his or her worst work but since it displays the proper cache collectors will pay exorbitantly for it. How absurd!

Money is not a criterion for anything. EVERYTHING IS WHAT IT IS … not what some arbitrary monetary value ascribes it to be. A ‘cheap’ handmade doll will be treasured by a child. In 1971 the highest rated scotch based on professional tasters was Johnnie Walker Red … not the most expensive scotch at the time. A 19th Century table ‘yesterday’ was ‘worth’ maybe $40 on the open market. Today, 20 years later, people are willing to pay $5,000 for it. Popularity stoked by a certain type of mindless hysteria often muddle the marketplace. Consider the outrageous prices people pay for real estate today.

You can easily get caught up in wanting what is ‘prized’ today. You can work hard for your ‘just’ rewards:  nice ‘stuff’, neat ‘toys’ and some fun. You can certainly feel a sense of accomplishment, moments of “I got it, great.”  And you may truly enjoy ‘it’. But acquisitions, vacations and all the trappings of power and success … these are transitory. They will soon become ‘like mist in the wind’. And what will be left? You. Your ‘character’. Your ‘spirit’ … which has true value, lasting and eternal. What you make of YOU should be your life’s goal. Not what you can ‘make’ of the world.

Know therefore that MONEY WILL NEVER BUY YOU HAPPINESS. It is a medium of exchange only. What you do in your life, what you accomplish and how you grow … these are the means for fulfillment. Be ruled by your heart not by the conventions of society.



©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.