Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Oct 22, 2009

Work Hard, Spend Harder, the Material-Oriented American Culture

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:05 am

It would be unfair to say most Americans do not work hard. On the contrary, most of them have over-worked themselves. On 10/20 a monitor from a southwest state came to our office. As usual, we chatted a little bit, then started the real business. While chatting, I shared with her the definition of happiness posted on 10/17 blog. She paused for a second and said, “You know what. It really makes sense.” Next she told me of someone that she knew of. Her acquaintance, over 60 years old, plans to work for another 10 years before she can retire, in order to pay off her mortgage.

Leaving the monitor room, I entered a room filled with cancer patients, most of them being senior citizens. A feeling of sadness overwhelmed me as I reflected on the words of the monitor. It is a rather sad reality when you think of the fact that for most people, they work hard all their lives and finally they can afford to retire, a disease like cancer strike them down, rendering them incapable of thinking of anything but how to stay alive.

One might be wondering why people do not retired earlier. Don’t they work hard all their lives and should be able to afford an early retirement? There is no doubt that most Americans work hard. As a matter of fact, it is a known fact that Europeans work less and enjoy more vacation than Americans do. A report from International Labor Organization reveals that Americans worked 1815 hours in 2002 while French 1545, Germans 1,444 for that year.

I can come up with two explanations for this– either most of Americans do not make much for their work or they spend more than their earnings. Considering the material-oriented American culture, I am more gravitated toward the second explanation. That is, Americans, being the most improvident people of all, work hard and spend harder than they are at work, saving nothing but garage trash for their advanced years. It makes zero sense when a man toils his life away for a huge house, a giant car, and other superficial materials, but never has the time, the health and the state of mind to enjoy. It is more like a life of slavery of our own material possessions. How much can you expect of civilization existing on this lifestyle?

For my children and my dear readers, life should not be made up of this endless toil and moil. It got to have some joyful meaning. Work is only a means to an end, whatever the end may be. We will definitely be able to enjoy more of life with early retirement if we can value time more than material possessions.

The same idea was articulated in 9/14/09 posting.

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