Friday, October 5, 2007

Can We Don’t Be So Materialistic?

Madonna sang: “I’m living in a material world, and I am a material girl.”

I believe everyone would be familiar with phrases like Money can buy you medicine but not health; a house but not a home; entertainment but not happiness”. It is true that money is a need to live in the modern society. Although it does reduce some of financial problems, money might not give you the ultimate and everlasting happiness. As famous author Mark Twain once said “Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.”

So let’s look at the consumer culture we have. It is continually bombarding us with the message through advertisements and fashion shows that materialism will make us happy.

Materialism makes the desire for Louis Vuitton bag even more. It makes you want to own the newest yet expensive Nokia WIFI phone. All these make you go on an open-ended course of dreaming for a luxurious lifestyle to maintain a level of acquisition equal to those of your acquaintance, setting up a social strata based on material goods. In my opinion, this pressure can also lead to relationship troubles and other associated problems.

To add on to the problems, we have a ruling party which focuses so much on material wealth. Material inducement such as HDB’s upgrading programme with S$180m for Potong Pasir and Hougang, and distribution of progress package “ang pows”, is the weapon they use to entice Singaporeans to vote for them.

Earlier this year, they announced a ministerial pay hike to woo more talents into the government. The leaders seemed to believe that all problems will be solved with money. How can they be so sure that the next generation of million-dollar ministers will not there just for the sake of high salaries? Won’t the government run a risk of attracting materialistic and self-serving talents who will not work for the people who voted them in?

Those who are courageous to devote or sacrifice themselves for their country, their belief or their idea are absolutely not driven by materialistic consideration. It is a kind of spiritual condition in the human nature and we have to enhance such a feeling through education and daily accumulation.

Materialism is bad for the soul. With the consumer culture so focused on materialism, there is a need to re-balance. We must seriously curb the increasing desire for material wealth. The mainstream media should not constantly glorify materialism and sensual gratifications in the form of branded products, fashion, jewellery and fine dining. And the government, together with the mainstream media, should take the lead in creating a society which is more concerned with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values. Remember the familiar phrase which our esteemed leaders coined – it’s a nation-building effort for our future generations.

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