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Materialism and indulgence have been deeply rooted in societies since thousands of years ago; from kings of civilisations that seek endless growth to businessmen who have an insatiable appetite for more investment and more return. In modern times, the cycle of pursuit has been reinforced by capitalism where more money leads to more possessions and more choices. It could be argued that this pursuit is futile with no clear end, but many would argue that the journey itself is what we savour the most.

To be wealthy in most societies is to have status and control. However paradoxically, to be wealthy you have to have money, but to appear wealthy you have to spend. For this very reason, people develop an uncompromising attitude where the more money we earn, the better. This attitude at its most extreme is capable of blinding people, causing the end to overwhelmingly take precedence over the means. Every human being has a limited time on earth, so one has to sit and ponder; is hunting down wealth throughout a lifetime the way to bring us happiness? It’s more likely to cause severe tunnel vision that prevents us from realising that no amount of money will ever satisfy us.

We can evaluate whether or not riches make us happy by simply looking to people ‘above’ us in society. It is clear that self-actualisation is not brought about through having money because there is no shortage of tragic stories of billionaires realising their money wasn’t enough. Embracing the idea of extreme materialism can consume us as it is an ideology that states that our self-worth is entirely based on what we own. As a result we risk losing control over our identities and eventually, our property owns us. Conversely, being less mindful of status and our net worth will allow us the freedom to discover ourselves. Removing the monetary barriers that separate people shifts the focus into the depths of each individual’s personality. This is instead of the focus being on material objects that are cosmetically fixed up then put into a perverse viewing room that allegedly dictates who we are.

However, as Abraham Lincoln argues, seeing other people’s success relative to ours is a driving force for us to be enterprising. We may seek to make money from other people by offering them services or goods that in turn benefit the economy. Moreover, the idea of attainment was never a foreign concept introduced to human beings; it is ingrained into our nature. The rise of communism showed us just how destructive trying to equalise a society is – it seeks to destroy a natural urge within us to succeed and to ignore the undeniable differences between individuals. The futility of communism is clear when you understand that different people excel in different fields, which is what makes society grow. There should be no embargo on the natural enterprise of human beings.

While human beings’ natural instinct is to seek provisions for ourselves, and even comfort or status, it’s important for us to remember that our possessions are just objects. They can be broken, lost and traded to other people and cannot dictate who we are or our self-worth. Getting lost in a cycle of attainment is dangerous because it blinds us from the things that are most resilient about human beings – personality and individuality. This continues until it’s too late. No one can deny the fleeting nature of life, so while enterprise and riches can provide us with joy, its importance should not be overstated.