Thursday, February 5, 2009


Do we need to keep up with the Jones's?

I don't have a strong desire to have things like expensive jewelry, over-sized homes, high-end cars, etc. until I see others possessing it or putting a lot of stock into it. I will see things in the stores or catalogs and think they are cool and all, but until I see someone personally enjoying something they have, it doesn't really bring out the envy or jealousy in me. Because I recognize this pattern, I know how to temper my feelings about it. I can bring myself back down to earth and be happy that I haven't let that kind of behavior get the best of me. It is a base instinct and I'm glad that I am not a slave to it.

Does anyone really need marble counter-tops?

The whole planned obsolescence model set before us in society leads me to think that there's something wrong with my laminated kitchen counter-tops. Sure, the color doesn't exactly fit my current decor as I would like for it to, but they're in perfect condition, structurally. The trend setters want me to feel like I'm missing out on something if I don't rip out my counter-tops and replace them with marble or granite. They would really go after my ten-year-old, though already 'outdated', cultured marble bathroom vanity, (which is not actually made of marble, by the way) to be certain.

Will we give charity to an entity who just wants more, or those who honestly don't have enough?

Unless you find an organization who's donations are not stripped down to pennies on the dollar after cutting everyone's salary checks and paying the bills, can't you just find a family in dire straights to bless, or some fixed-income retiree who has to choose between buying their medications or buying healthy food? I have been to some churches who don't even give to individual families anymore. They refer people to a clothing closet or food bank if they need help. The church board decides which outside charities to give to, but only after paying for all the salaries, utilities, real estate developement and improvements. It's hard to know which charities are really helping the needy more than they are themselves. But, then I think, what would it be like if we had no charities at all? Would those in need know where to go for help? Or, how would the belevolent ones know that they were giving to a truly needy family? I know that some of the 'needy' are needy because they aren't necessarily spending their money wisely throughout the month. I know people who aren't as needy as they think. I have seen people manage to get approved for food stamps when they drive two new vehicles and already have a vacation at Disney World planned within the same month. So, I suppose entities may be necessary to weed out those undeserving of our charity. I imagine with the way I would try to run a charitable organization, it might not last very long, so I'll just try my best to find the one run with the most prudence, the most heart and the most transparency when it comes to donating my money.

Will we or our children feel pressured to get wealth by ill-gotten gains, or by any means other than hard work?

I's pounded into our brains: "Work smarter, not harder!" We read books on how to not pay our taxes or find ways to beat the system and get something for nothing. I would ask, is it worth it if you to have to...grease palms, make questionable business deals, keep quiet when you know someone else is stealing, live in fear that you'll lose your job if you do this or don't do that unethical thing, risk losing your family, show a poor example to others, teach your children that cheating is the way to make it in this world, gamble away your and your family's future, take food out of other people's mouths to get ahead, run from the law, run from the other side of the law, put your family in danger, etc.?

Or, can you just walk away from it, no matter how much you think it's going to be worth to you in money or position, before it's too late?

Should we use our influence and magnetism to benefit only ourselves?

People with strong personalities can usually find a way to get what they want. I am a strong personality, who happens to want to be used more to bless others than be blessed myself. In fact, I do get blessed by seeing others' needs met. Because I don't require much to exist myself, I can happily pass along tangible things to others needing my help without really thinking about what's in it for me. This is only because I recognize my influence as something to be used for good. I can see the other side of the fence, where manipulation and greed rule over the over-confident fool's actions. These people are really quite hard to resist, because of their magnetism and charm. I recognize that they see people as a means to a desired end, and as things to be conquered until they've gotten what they want out of you, be it money, position, sex, approval or praise, loyalty, etc. If you find that you have influence over people, I hope that you can see the supreme responsibility of your actions. Be honest with yourself about how you are willing to treat others to reach your goals. If you operate through coercion and fear, you're missing out on what it takes to be genuinely respected. If you are manipulating people through flattery or charm, it's just a matter of time before they figure you out and become disenchanted. If you use your influence to see others reach their goals, rather than taking from them, and work hard at an honest profession to reach yours, then you are using your influence in the best possible way. If you do that, you will gain and keep the respect of others, know the self-respect that comes of an honest living, have money enough for your and your family, and leave a legacy of influence.

Just some stuff to think about!

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