So many of us in particular and our culture in general have lost sight of the ends to which we should be striving. Things like freedom, intellectual growth, happiness, social relationships, and general well-being. We have allowed the means to these values to become the ends towards which we endlessly strive. We constantly are piling up the means, but forgetting the ends to which those should lead.
This is where we are at with the means becoming more important than the ends:
This is where we should be with the ends more important than than the means:
The most obvious of these is money. It has ceased to be a means to more valuable ends like freedom and has instead has become an end in itself and indeed an obstacle to freedom. Instead of buying freedom is it buys most people slavery. Those who accumulate enough chips to buy their freedom usually don’t. Instead they just continue striving for more. It has become the end that is pursued for it’s own sake; as a measuring stick for success and status (regardless of what some may claim).
But it’s not just money, it’s happening with just about everything. Electronic gadgets which should be used as tools for convenience and to connect have become an absurd end in themselves. The gadget buying for no other reason than to have the latest and greatest has gone over an obscene cliff and shows no signs of slowing down. I’m not a luddite, but I want to use gadgets as a means to something better. They are like a car with 1,000 unneeded options. Once you get past heat and air and comfortable seats the rest is pretty much fluffy status.
Our homes are no longer for shelter or an anchoring place for family and friends. They have become monstrously oversized status symbols or even alleged investments. They are expensive to buy and operate and many people not only don’t own their home (because the bank owns 100% of the property), but they also owe them some part of the rest of their future wealth. Congratulations you are now a slave to financial institutions. Expect them someday to go bankrupt and then get the government to steal more of your money to bail them out.
Our children’s activities are supposed to give them a rich life experience. Instead they have become a competitive status activity that makes the kids miserable and allows the parents to live vicariously.
Facebook and similar sites were supposed to be a way to connect with family and friends and instead have become a place to display your fake self and compete to see who can have the most fake “friends”. Facebook is no longer a means to something better, it has become an end in itself. Do you “Facebook”?
What Are Your Values?
It can’t be money because money is only a medium of exchange and in itself is completely worthless (and government policy makes it less valuable in exchanges).
Stop and think about what you truly value. I listed some of mine at the beginning of this article – freedom, intellectual growth, happiness, social relationships, and general well-being.
I seriously doubt that anyone actually values an iPad 11 (I know it doesn’t exist). You want an iPad 11 because it can do three things the iPad 10 can’t. So what? Exactly what do those three things contribute to your ultimate values? I suggest exactly nothing. Is downloading a movie on your 4G phone in 5 seconds going to make you happy? If it does you are in serious need of help
The beautiful thing about life is that means to those ultimate values can be achieved by some of the simpler things you can do in life. In the pursuit of success, happiness, and freedom we have lost sight of those ultimate ends and become stuck in an endless game of piling up means.
If we can focus on our ultimate values and adjust our relationship to the means, we will be a lot more likely to thrive in the only thing that really counts; our experience of life.
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