“Modesty is the color of virtue.”
Diogenes of Sinope
Our modern world has discarded what had been established since the time of Plato (360 BCE) as the prime virtues, namely
Prudence – to judge between all possible actions to select the most appropriate action at a given time to maximise mutual benefit for all
Justice – the perpetual responsibility of respecting the rights, property and achievements of others
Self Restraint – self-control and moderation to enable sustainability for all
Courage – endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation
Our education used to be designed to develop these traits, so each of us would strive towards an ideal where we were brave, wise, just and compassionate. When a population achieved such virtues then their nation also become virtuous.
The problem with a population who are brave, wise, just and compassionate is that they are not easily controlled and, more importantly, they do not desire endlessly to shop for new things. Prudent and wise people do not borrow money they do not have to buy things they do not need.
So instead of the traditional virtues we have developed a creed of selfish irresponsibility. Where hard work is no longer associated with reward, everyone is encouraged to develop a sense of self entitlement (because “they are worth it”) and we surround ourselves with images designed to make us want to purchase and consume endlessly.
We developed a whole new art – the art of making people believe that pleasure was associated with consumption. Be it a new car, a new watch, a new washing machine, a new TV, a bigger TV, a TV with 3d, a phone, a phone with different colours.. and so on. The only consistent factor is the person showing their happiness when they purchase the new item.
Where once we were encouraged to be our best through effort and sacrifice now we are told there is a quick fix for everything. And it is always the same fix.. buying something.
Traditional religion has been replaced by this new creed of consumption. Our temples, churches, synagogues and mosques have been replaced by vast shopping malls dedicated to the new God of our age: consumption. Offering not salvation but that happiness that can only be achieved when we purchase something.
Where once we believed in the values such as honesty, and self sufficiency we are now encouraged by every moving image to devote our every effort and resource to acquiring more objects or replacing those we already have with new ones with the latest features.
But, and here is the secret that you already know but is forbidden to be ever expressed, acquiring things does not make one happy.
Happiness is actually the opposite of what our modern world would wish us to think.
Happiness is appreciating what you have already, who you are already and the people who share that appreciation with you, now.
Buying things will not help you appreciate yourself. Only your mental attitude and self awareness can do that.
Ironically the very things the old traditional virtues taught us.
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