The Thing Called Materialism


A year ago, a casual friend of mine asked me this…
“Francis, how come you’re still driving that old car”?
I responded by saying this…
“Why not, it still runs”!

My friend’s face suddenly went into a fog. He can’t simply understand what I am saying. Here are two guys with two different perceptions.
My friend purchased his car for the gain of his status symbol. To him, his car is meant to signify its owners’ high social and economic standing.
For me, my car is an object to bring me from point A to point B.
My friend is still paying his brand new SUV’s monthly amortization while mine is all paid for.

I have nothing against people buying and purchasing handbags, shoes, cars, Rolex, and iPhones. After all, they have every right to use their hard earned money.
But sometimes, it is too much.

People are so hooked up with material things, working long hours to attain that, and still end up being miserable. They didn’t know that Materialism is a system that eats them from the inside out.
These people define their value in terms of the objects that they own. They get stuck in a never-ending comparison. They crave external appreciation and wait to be noticed by others.
And losing their true identity in the end.

I used to be like one of them. Having been schooled in La Salle Greenhills, a private Catholic school exclusively for boys, I had no choice but to blend in with the crowd.
When 80% of the students there are the sons of the affluent and known people. You will be left out hanging dry out in the field if you don’t have what these kids have.
So I had to convince my hard-working father to buy those Reeboks and Girbauds just to belong to the group. It did work… for a while.

Clearly, that is a thing of the past. And now I cultivate and nurture my children (who are homeschooled in the U.S.) to refrain or stay away from material things as much as possible.
They have iPhones sure, but it is the older version (to the point of being obsolete).
They have Kevin Durant shoes from Nike but that too is old and hand downed over by their cousin Andre.

All of these cases might give you a presumption that we are cheap and killjoys but we are not like that.
We buy things too… but only the things that we need.
I have my MacBook for my Web Development. My eldest buy the latest games for his PS4. We travel, we eat out, and we go for leisurely things once in while. We spend to buy things because we need them. We do what we desire.
The only thing that we are not is we are not here to “Dress to Impress”.

I face people from different walks of life, and believe me, I can sense those people who are “Materialistic” a mile away. It’s a shame to see them living that way. Some of them are close friends and relatives of mine.
To them, they achieved this “Temporary Happiness” by buying these new things. Then 3-4 months after, they need to replace the thing that they bought to a newer version that just came out. It’s insane.
They are succumbing to the capability of technology’s persuasive power to be updated all the time. To them, they think that is necessary.

To them, their mountain is so high that it is endless. They climb and climb and climb. They sacrifice things like their health, family time, and other precious things that are completely FREE.
They don’t stop climbing. They don’t look down on what they accomplished. They simply can’t. They need to impress everyone.
They just need to go up and up and up.

Me, I have found my Mount Everest.
I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, and a bed to sleep on.
I have my loving family and friends who I can count on.
And yes, I still drive that 13-year-old car even up today.

Written on March 1, 2019