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Postmodern Debt

February 3, 2011

I’ve always thought that those “Struggling under piles of debt? We can help!” commercials were kind of crazy. 

[Disclaimer: Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way attacking anyone who may read this and have serious debt probelms, I know there are thousands of ways you can get into debt.]

I think the debt crisis that many Americans find themselves in is directly related to the postmodern cultural programming that every baby-boomer/gen-Xer has been inundated with since birth. If I grow up hearing and believing that people should do what pleases them, that truth is a subjective, personal notion, and that I should do what is right for me, why wouldn’t I spend spend spend in the now to get what I need to have to be happy? With credit cards distributed to anyone with a first and last name, I don’t think it’s a surprise that people “find themselves” in heaps of unpayable bills. I say “find themselves” because nobody “finds themselves” anywhere, everyone makes choices that leave them with certain consequences. If you want to be happy and stuff makes you happy/successful, your truth is: be happy and spend whatever it takes to get you there.

All that and I haven’t even mentioned the insane materialsim that grips each and every one of us, some of us much less that others, but still present. The American Dream (easily one of the most shortsighted things imaginable) is the way of life and calls each one to amass material treasures at any means, including going into massive debt. I tend to think that not everyone who drives around in a brand-new Mercedes has paid in full for it. So postmodernism and American Dreamism combine to keep people in debt and ever unsatisfied (e.g. current divorce rates).

I initially wanted to talk about not being irresposible, and paying your own debts and living within your means, but I just got thinking about how sad and wasteful the life I just described is. People are dying all the time who have wasted their life pursuing the ever-elusive satisfaction of the American Dream. Live for something else, people. What a sham the American Dream, that stuff can bring happiness. Live for what’s eternal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

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