Magazine covers and billboards, TV ads and internet pop-up distractions—they all convey a similar message. The party responsible for the media seeks to corner your undivided attention. Promises are made; invest here, try this, wear that and all the issues that make you, both uncomfortable with self, and inferior to others will dissolve in a beautiful cornucopia of capitalistic spending. Only all the while we are being duped; tricked by the swaggering shenanigans of irresponsible advertisers preying upon our irresponsibility.
It might be unfair to state that everyone is entirely tricked by these familiar ploys, but we are, all of us, saturated by them on a daily basis. And it doesn’t stop at the sly presentations promoted by the marketing masses. This exchange of promotion for promise is a way of life, it is our culture, and it is our American Dream. Only somehow, like a dream, it has become ethereal.
We see glimpses, we strive for attainability, and we position for resources and opportunities only to find that all the maneuvering and wanton social fidgeting has left us remarkably short of our goal, our prize. For many, life seems to become a bottomless box of Cracker Jacks with a plastic prize forever out of reach. A cycle reciprocates.
We see. We want. We spend.
Sometimes we spend money or resources, often we spend time, but always we spend ourselves—and especially our hearts as the modern commodity of trade. What do we have to show for it? Perhaps we fashion an impressive display of real estate, investment holdings, or career milestones—all of these displayed in a glass case of human pride like trophies in a high school showroom.
What is the ultimate cost of these, our most treasured possessions? What value do we place upon all of this, stuff?
I find that these are questions we could all stand to ask ourselves in this age of chasing dreams. The day has long-since passed when the dollar was simply a monetary unit of transaction backed by a stockpile of natural wealth. It has become a unit of faith. We are all too quick to trade this unit of faith to those who offer easy answers masked by shallow promises.
Culture would tell a woman that she is not as beautiful as she was meant to be and so believing the lie she will spend her faith in an effort to attain a beauty which is neither real nor satisfying. Society will show a man that he can be his own king and in an effort to conquer he gives his faith over for a crown of self-assurance that never seems to fit.
Now, don’t read this and think I mean to say that all of our pursuits to make our lives better are meaningless and empty. We are certainly within our rights to do so, and failure to better ourselves is foolish. However, like so many things in life answers can be found and clarity discovered when we strive to better understand why we do things rather than what we do.
So, faith being the unit of currency that ultimately we are trading that then leaves us with two fundamental questions: Why are we spending our faith? What do we spend our faith on?