Homeboy by Seth Morgan
For better or worse, I am an American, raised by Americans raised by Americans, back and back. When people ask me what my cultural background is, I tell them that I am American, and their inevitable question is, “Yeah, but where is your family from?” Ask my grandmother and she’ll tell you that I have ancestors that came over on the Mayflower. Aside from being a Native American, that’s about as American as it gets.
I say this not out of sense of pride for my background. Quite the contrary. I say it only to establish that my culture is the American one. I am a dissident in many ways, and much of what I see in my culture appalls me. If I mentioned all that does, I would be writing a novel of a post.
Instead, I will focus upon the attitude that my culture has about product over process.
What I mean is this: rather than focusing upon the process of completing a goal, we tend to focus upon the end result, mostly ignoring what it took to get this result.
I am a teacher. There are plenty of examples of this pervasive attitude reflected in our education system. Many kids are so focused upon grades–since that is what will help get them into college–that they will do whatever it takes to get the grades they desire. Parents are no better. Most often, they ask about their children’s’ grades and not their work ethic. As a nation, we favor standardized tests as the assessment tool to give us an idea about our students’ educational ability. But tests are a poor judge of how successful our students will be. They require little work and a child can do fairly well with little preparation.
This attitude is also evident in our medical system. Doctors are quick to prescribe medicines as a quick fix. Our medical industry is primarily diagnostic rather than preventative. That is, we treat health problems rather than stressing preventing the problems before they arise. I can’t say I entirely blame doctors. People wait until there is something evidently wrong before seeking help. I see plenty of billboards advertising gastric bypass procedures and the like. This is a prime example. People weight–I meanwait–until they are morbidly obese to attack the problem. Diet pills and expensive procedures could be entirely avoided by not gaining the weight in the first place. It seems small, but gaining five pounds a year over twenty years equals a weight gain of one hundred pounds!
I see this attitude represented in many more areas of our society; the list is a long one.
It’s well beyond time for us to begin stressing the process of things rather than only the product. It is the process that makes us strong, that allows us to hone our skills and grow. If we fail to teach our children this, we will have a lot of pretty buildings that will collapse under the slightest pressure.
Let’s work on our foundations.
There are millions of quotations on money, many of them expressing the evils of it.
I don’t agree one bit.
The best defense of money I’ve read is from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, in a speech by Franciso d’Anconia. (You can read it here if you wish: http://capitalismmagazine.com/2002/08/franciscos-money-speech/).
I can’t say it better than that, but I’ll add my two cents.
Money itself is not evil. Forget for a second that I don’t believe in evil and let me say that no object has anything inherently evil or good about it. Objects like money are there for the use of people. Many people have used money to do good, so it would be stupid to say that money is evil.
It’s simple: money is a unit used in exchange for experiences. It has no intrinsic value at all. People place value in different experiences, such as dining and travel. Certain experiences are assigned certain values, often by the demand for the experience and the availability of the experience: basic economics.
When we are paid, it is based on how much value our work has been assigned in a given society. For example, I am paid to teach children–underpaid, but I’m a bit biased. My experience and my educational level are used to determine how much I receive for my salary. I’ll save the inefficiency of such a system for another post. But I am being paid to provide an experience for people; in this case, it is education.
People who say money is evil are the same people who claim that technology is evil or sex is evil or drugs are evil. Anything can be used with harmful results, but that is not the fault of the thing; it is the fault of the user. When people are taught to use responsibly, less harm will come. That is one of my foundational beliefs.
Money is what you make of it.