Friday, June 12, 2009

Disagreed with Greed

As many of you know I am a huge Pearl Jam fan. I love their music and especially the singing of front man Eddie Vedder. Eddie and I couldn't be more different in our beliefs, but I have never looked to rock and roll for a role model. I like his music. His political leanings have no bearing on me.

Not long ago Eddie did his first solo album. He wrote and recorded the music for the film Into the Wild. One particular song entitled “Society” talks about the topic of greed and materialism. This song and in particular the words below are the inspiration for this post today.

We have a greed
With which we have agreed
And you think you have to
Want more than you need
Until you have it all
You won't be free
-Eddie Vedder
Everyone knows about greed. People familiar with the Bible know it as one of the seven deadly sins. People not familiar with those teachings are all too familiar with the damage greed can do as well.

The current financial situation was fueled by greed. The fat cats on Wall Street wanted more and more so they made riskier and riskier investments. Bankers all across the country wanted more and more so they made loans to all sorts of people regardless of credit. Even the people taking out the loans were greedy sometimes. Maybe they bought a house beyond their means because they felt they had to have it. This is not to say that every banker, financial advisor, broker, or home owner is guilty. The system worked in such a way that greed drove things to a breaking point. I know very little if anything about finances. I am an engineer that knows about physics and other exciting things like that, but I think everyone will agree with me that greed was a major culprit.

Corporate greed is not the type of greed that concerns me as a parent. Of course the financial collapse concerns me, but not from the point of view of raising my son. I am much more concerned about the rampant materialism in our society. Nothing is enough anymore. People must have big homes, fancy cars, boats, motorcycles, clothes, jewelry, and on and on. Many people want and want until they are in credit card hell.

Some degree of materialism affects everyone. I am certainly not above the fray. Right now I want a new fishing rod and a four wheeler. Sometimes I want a new video game or something else. This is simply a part of our human nature.

I believe that the ability to be satisfied with what you have can bring a great deal of happiness into someone's life. Being thankful and content is quite a blessing. I am not saying that we shouldn't want nice things. Buying a new car is definitely not a punishable offense. I do think, however, the constant desire for something more that leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness is damaging.

I want to teach Braden to enjoy the things he has been given. He will always want toys and other fun things, but hopefully I can teach him to accept it when he is denied. I want to raise a kid that is content with his family, friends, and the things he has. I have no idea how to go about doing this. There is no great plan in the works, and I know it won't be easy. The effort will be worth it though, because success means Braden will grow up to be a better adjusted, happier person. Hopefully he will grow up to be the type of person who gives to others rather than lining his own pockets.

I have not always been the best role model for this type behavior, but fatherhood is helping me learn in a hurry.
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs


Bella Daddy said...

Such profound writings...greed indeed!

You thoughts for raising your child are pretty darn cool...Kudos!

Daddy Files said...

Right on with this post.I couldn't agree more.

Luckily I've always been pretty content with what I have. I'm not a new car guy, I never ask for presents on gift-giving occasions, and I am happy in our small condo.

My wife, on the other hand, is obsessed with money and material things. She needs a new car every three years and even though she won't admit it, she judges her success by the amount of her paycheck. It drives me nuts.

And it makes me wonder how we're going to teach Will not to be greedy when mommy so clearly values the almighty dollar. Parenting is interesting...

Thanks for the post and for making me think this morning.

Anonymous said...

I thought about this same thing last week. When people get old, they always say, "I have everything I need and want" and I don't think it's because they've acquired masses of goods. I think it's because they realize that all those things really mean nothing.

I know a man that is very wealthy and can pretty much have anything he wants. It's very sad when he says, "there is nothing left to want." He hasn't a clue what to do when he is not acquiring more things.

Momo Fali said...

Well said. I wish the same...that my children will be happy to have less. That they will grow to love people and relationships, rather than things.

Jason said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. I have a tendency to get greedy myself and have to watch because I just tend to grab stuff without thinking. If I don't go to the store with a list that I adhere to STRICTLY there's no telling what I might grab.

WeaselMomma said...

I think Braden will have a great role model to learn from.
This has a lot to do with my post today and my plans for the weekend listed there. Great minds, ya know...

surprised mom said...

Kudos for being a wonderful role model for Braden to grow up watching and emulating! It's hard to say no, but so much better off in the long run. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Mocha Dad said...

I always like it when a posts starts out with Pearl jam and Eddie Vedder. Greed is pervasive in our society. I constantly have to explain to my kids the differences between needs and wants.

KWG said...

Unfortunately corporate greed is human greed; it's all an extension of the same materialistic sin. Teaching our children positive values and the power to self-regulate is an absolute (and whether you subscribe to God, Allah, Yaweh or Buddha makes no never mind to me, as long as you're personally responsible for your actions and instill that in your children).

You rock (and so does Eddie). Thank you.

Tom said...

Start early, and stay consistent. The firmer you can be with the line, the "this is as much as we can afford" line, the better off you'll all be. And he'll grow up to appreciate what he has.

I'm having a hard time with that at the moment; my five-year-old thinks that if he breaks something, we'll just automatically buy him a new one. It hasn't worked out for him like that thus far, but he persists.

GreenJello said...

Raising contented children in this society is difficult, I've decided.

But when my kids were very young, I told them, "I'm just a mean mom, and you're gonna have to get used to it." I still say it. :)

I make my teens pay for their own car insurance, get jobs, and eventually move into buying all their own things. I don't care that all their other friends' parents buy stuff for the kids. I'm not other parents. I'm a mean mom.

The Devoted Dad said...

I also am a big fan of Pearl Jam. We must be about the same age! Do you listen to "This American Life"? They have done some really good reports on the whole economic crisis and where this greed came from. You have great insight in your posts! -Jason

Out-Numbered said...

I have to tell you. You really post some great stuff here. Every time I read your blog, I feel like I need to grow up a bit. You seem to really have your shit together. Your kid is lucky.

Steely Dad said...

I know it's not the trust of your post but I loved the movie, Into the Wild. I read the book the next day.

Teaching kids to appreciate what they have rather than covet what they don't is key. It's especially difficult when you live in an area surrounded by people who are always trying to out-do their neighbor. It's never about making themselves happy; it's about making your neighbor jealous. Just recognizing your point of view is huge. Always keep it in mind and you'll do fine.

Dto3 said...

I always tell people that the more money you make, the more expensive your toys become. The fact that you acknowledge your intent to teach good values is the best first step. You'd be surprised how few even acknowledge it themselves.