14 August 2012

Time Is Not Money, Money Is Not the Goal; Time Is the Goal (Post-consumerism pt. 2)

For a while, money really could (indirectly) make you happy. It paid for the things that could raise your standard of living and give you more time: vacuums, dishwashers, washers and dryers, cars, computers, anything that could automate or speed up what once took much longer. Time was making us happy, and money was facilitating that.

But it seems that somewhere, we thought that it was the stuff itself that was making us happy; having stuff was the goal. Maybe our capitalistic society is to blame: companies want you to buy their stuff, so they get you to believe that their stuff will make you happy. Our childhoods are marked with events that emphasize that. Christmases and birthdays, in particular, have us look forward to that point where we get to open all our loot. In hindsight, the real fun of Christmas is just getting school off and spending a ton of time with your brothers. Birthdays are fun because it's an excuse to get all your friends together in one place to do fun things.

I assume you've heard the phrase, "Time is money." It seems to be a business motto. Time spent not making money is actually money lost. Or, free time is time we could be using to make more money. I hate that phrase. Once I may have been heard using it, but now that I'm almost a professional adult (which is age 30), I've taken the opposite stance.

Time is the goal, not money or stuff. We got to the point where, if we want to, we can quite easily have everything we need: shelter, food, fridge, microwave, etc. Once there, the goal is not how to make more money and get more stuff, the goal is how to keep the time you have and spend it wisely.

Stuff doesn't make us happy, has that cliché settled in yet? It baffles me how difficult it is to trust it. I know it deep down inside, but I still get caught up in the idea that a new big HDTV might add value to my life. I bet if you asked anyone, out what they already have, what their top sources of happiness are, very few would be things you can buy. Yet if you asked them, out of what they don't have, what could bring them happiness, somehow so many would be things you can buy.

This rant does, indeed, have something to do with education. Education, in my opinion, is to prepare students for success in the future, and also to prepare them to be upstanding citizens of their community. A part of that education should include teaching them to think critically about what has the most value. Time, I hope, will be on the list of things that people have, not on the list of things people want.

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