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From the desk of Kelly:
As the great poet, Madonna, once said, “We are living in a material world.” Our lives revolve around the latest trend – who’s cool, what’s hot today, what’s the latest trend. But have you ever stopped to think who decides what is “cool” or who decides what is “good”? Who decides what is “good” music, food, fashion, TV? The answer: it all comes down to a matter of opinion. For example, there are some individuals who detest country music. “It all sounds the same!” they cry. Well, maybe to some people that’s true. I, personally, love country music, and conversely am not a big fan of rap music because the sound doesn’t appeal to me. That’s fine but that’s my opinion, not a fact. There are certainly those who have mastered their craft in every genre; they stand above others in their field. They are the musicians who can write beautiful music and play it themselves on a variety of different instruments; the chef who has become a master of culinary art and can whip up a dish using just about any ingredient (Have you ever seen “Chopped” – those people are ridiculous!) I’m not arguing over talent here. What I’m getting at, however, is that many of the trends, or what society labels as “cool” is only that way because of someone else’s opinion. Then, through mass overexposure and advertising, the public is led to believe that life would be barren without it.
Trends come and go. They always have and they always will. Why, then, are we focusing our lives on something that will surely be outdated next year? What do we gain by purchasing that new outfit or that new smart phone? I was recently leafing through a women’s fitness magazine and was taken aback to find that in their “Fashion” section, they were flaunting tops, pants, and purses almost all upwards of $200 in cost. What one chooses to do with their money is their own prerogative. I won’t pretend that I’ve never splurged before. But it can lead you down two very slippery slopes – living beyond your means, and focusing all your energy on “keeping up with the Joneses.” We’re living in a fragile and unsteady economy. Jobs are hard to find, sometimes hard to keep, and cost of living (not to mention cost of healthcare – thanks, Obama) is rising. The “do what feels good” mantra fools people into thinking they will gain some sort of satisfaction from purchasing that new shirt with a designer name, a new iPhone, or maybe if you’ve been really down, that new car. Oftentimes these purchases come at the expense (no pun intended) of your bank account. “But it’s (insert famous designer here)!” we rationalize. Exactly my point. Who says it’s cool? The flavor-of-the-week popstar? A real housewife of (insert city here)? Hollywood? In a culture where we’re constantly being overexposed to brand after brand being endorsed by “so and so” celebrity it’s hard not to believe it after awhile.
Personal responsibility plays a big role in all of this. It’s hard to resist that shiny new gadget, or those must-have shoes. But can you afford them? Will you be living off of Ramen noodles for the next 2 months if you buy that Coach purse? (Hopefully not because those things are laden with excess sodium.) Sometimes being a responsible individual means saying no to those “feel good” things. The good news is you won’t sink into a downward spiral if you opt out on purchasing that new Michael Kors watch. It’s unfortunate that we’ve been trained to associate feelings with purchasing or engaging in popular activities – listening to certain music, wearing a certain style of clothes, eating at a certain type of restaurant. It’s all fine and well to indulge on occasion but the point is to not let that define you. You, as an individual, should be defined by your values and beliefs and not by status – what kind of car you drive, where you work, or what you’re wearing. Instead of focusing on the outer aspects of life (ie: looks, money, etc.) we should be placing the focus on what’s inside. I’m not going to launch into an “it’s on the inside that counts” after-school special here. What I would like to point out, though, is how little focus our society places on the more meaningful things. It’s normal now for college to be the next step after high school. But lest we forget that once upon a time, college was a dream for most people. Not only was it a dream, it was a highly respected and revered path. After all, knowledge is power. Long before the days of “Animal House” and “Old School” we had institutions focused solely on higher learning. It’s plain to see the focus of going to college has largely shifted. The places where people once went to focus on learning and broadening horizons is now a haven for beer pong, football games, and (unfortunately) liberal propaganda. Gaining knowledge has fallen by the wayside.
America’s youth are brainwashed to believe it doesn’t matter what book you’re reading as long you’re listening to the right music and watching the right TV shows. Forget about current events. Ask a young person today what’s going on in the world and chances are you’ll get a blank stare. (If you don’t believe me, just watch the “Watter’s World” segment on “The O’Reilly Factor”) Books, politics, learning in general, for that matter, are largely “uncool.” Hence the reason why so many young people morphed into “Obama zombies” in the past two elections – they didn’t know any better. But Diddy told them to go out and vote (in an oh, so bipartisan way) so they did, and obviously for the wrong person. This is the perfect example of being a sheep in the large herd that’s become the American society. Why do you think individuals like Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Dr. Ben Carson and even actress Stacey Dash are berated for speaking their opinions? It’s precisely because they go against the liberal machine. They have their own ideas and principles, which don’t exactly jive with the Left’s. Naturally, like any mature person would do, the mainstream media and their posse viciously attack said individuals. No stone is left unturned for these animals. They’ll go after families, tax records, clothing, choice of music, you name it. If you disagree with them you’re fair game to their ridicule.
So what does materialism have to do with politics or your quality of life? It all comes down to priorities. When the focus becomes the material world, we lose our grasp on what’s truly important. As the saying goes, “if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything.” It’s sad to say, but far too many people live a superficial life. They don’t take the time to sharpen the mental and spiritual aspects of their lives. What’s even more upsetting is that too many people are more concerned with what’s happening on the latest episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” instead of what’s happening in the Middle East. “Ben Ghazi? Who’s that?” We’ve become content with just coasting through life. Jesus was (obviously) spot-on when he told his followers the story of the two builders. One man built his house on solid rock, and the other built his house on sand. When a violent storm came, and the rain poured down and the wind howled, the man whose house was built on rock was fine. He had a strong foundation to keep his house safe. The man whose house was built on sand saw his house fall apart before him, as it had no foundation to keep it sturdy. When the foundation of our lives is our looks, our money, or power we will undoubtedly be shaken to the core when the storm comes. Those attributes are fleeting and will do no good when push comes to shove. It’s time to break out of the herd. Not only is it destroying us as individuals, it’s destroying our society. We’ve been dumbed down and dolled up into a shell of the great people we once were. Madonna was right about one thing (words I never thought I’d utter) – we are living in a material world; a world that needs a little more Atlas Shrugged, George Washington, and Jesus, and a little less Apple, Giorgio Armani, and Jimmy Choo.