We all have an innate need to be valued in life — to feel we are valuable as individuals and as members of our community and to feel that our contributions are worthy and appreciated. But can we ever feel too valuable?
“The tell“ is in how we evaluate and measure our worthiness and contributions.
Most of us would like to believe, as Martin Luther King did, that each of us is judged by “the content of their character”. A recent Pew Research poll would seem to point us in a positive direction with Americans most valuing character traits like honest, kindness and strong in men and women. But, as a Helen Douglas quote pointed out:
”Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”
So how have we have come to live in a world where the measure of everything and everyone is money — big money , and where everything and everyone has become just another product to sell?
What were all those daily thoughts, deeds, and mindsets that made greed the “self-forged chains” of our collective psyche and made net worth king?
For a telling perspective of our evolution over the last 25 years, Emmy-winning documentary photographer/filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield lays bare her work in a multi-media visual history (book, film, museum exhibit) called GENERATION WEALTH. She shares the glam, but also what lies below the glam in the tragic, twisted, and trapped lives of those deeply embedded in the world of wealth. A world where the measure of ones valuableness is in their ability — to be ever richer through accumulation — to look ever richer through consumption, and — to feel ever richer through competition. It is a closed loop world of gross excess — obsessive, destructive, and dehumanizing. It feeds on fear and insecurities. And, it locks in its participants with the addictive thrill of being made to feel like they too could be a winner in the never winnable cycle of more.
While little of what Lauren shows in her film might actually shock or surprise you, it is hard not to feel sick inside at the sheer volume of excess. This should be a wake up call for us as a society and us as individuals to evaluate our character — our daily thoughts and actions — that feed the greedy beasts of accumulation, consumption, and competition. And try to find ways to starve them instead!
So to answer my first question “Can we ever feel too valuable?” You bet — when we are valued for our destructive behaviors.
Here’s the trailer for Generation Wealth, please see the movie: