Tragic news in the paper the other day. Some lady decides to shoot all her kids, and then herself, and then set the house on fire. The back story is that she and her Husband are getting a divorce and they were having money troubles. In recent years, there have been a number of similar stories - about people killing themselves, or trying to kill themselves, because they are facing foreclosure or bankruptcy.
Life goes on, after bankruptcy, after divorce, after foreclosure. And not only is it a very shallow thing to kill yourself over something as stupid as money, it is a very rude thing to kill your children over this - after all, their lives would have been affected far less by your financial problems that yours.
Why do people do things like this? Well, they see no other way out, and they put too much of an importance in their lives on money. As I noted in another posting, Money is the greatest invention of mankind, but it can be powerful and dangerous. It is an idea, plain and simple - an idea of what things are worth.
And when you put too much importance into this idea - when you make it the centerpiece of your life, well, then losing it seems like losing your life.
Money is a useful tool, yes. But an end in and of itself? No.
It is important to disassociate yourself from your money. As human beings, we lived for eons without money and never worried about it. We worried about predators, starvation, war, and the like. But we didn't worry about having our caves foreclosed upon.
It is important to manage money properly. But don't confuse money and material things with life itself.
You are not your bank balance!
You are not your credit score!
You are not your credit card debt!
You are not the car you drive, the boat you own, or the motorcycle you ride.
You are not your house. You are not granite counter-tops.
In short, you are not the material. Even the bodies we inhabit are mere material things that will vanish in short order, once we are gone. And often even they are more enduring that the money and things we leave behind.
It is sad when I read these stories about people jumping off buildings because they lost money, or killing themselves over a foreclosed home. It is sad not just because these people died, but because they died for nothing - or worse than nothing, they died for something illusory and transitory - the material.
But these types of events illustrate how American has become beholden to the material - how the media hypes the material as the end-all to life and how most Americans buy into this without thinking. A house in the suburbs and a shiny new car is life to most people these days. So losing that literally means they have nothing to live for. And that is sad.
As I have discovered in this blog, you can live on not a lot of money and live quite well. In fact, how well you live and how much money you have are often unrelated things. Gaudy and tacky millionaires and billionaires may have more "things" in their lives, but are rarely happy - and often these people are in debt up to their eyeballs like Michael Jackson.
There's a cautionary tale if ever there was one. Was he a happy person with all that money? I think not.