Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Searching for what is Important

Clothes do make the person, we say, and most of us don't think it should, but the reality seems to be saying that it does. Writing in the Catholic Times a professor reflects on the subject and is not pleased with what turns up. 

He notes that violence among students has surfaced in the mass media for some time. It is not a new reality, but in the past it was confined to taking money from students; now they take brand clothes. The clothes the students wear will indicate, in most cases, their social status. The professor feels the adults have passed along this way of thinking to the young.

He shows us examples of this in our society, where those in leadership positions have family members whose clothes and watches show their position in society. It is understood that those who are wealthy have the freedom to do what they want, and he doesn't want to interfere. But in a society where we do have people with serious financial problems it would not be out of place, he says, to respect this reality by those who are our leaders in our society.

In a  recently publicized incident, a famous writer was criticized by the media for having a very expensive brand handbag. She had succeeded in doing what 99 percent of people just think about, and just one percent actually do, the media reported, sarcastically. Although the writer denied that the handbag was a luxury item, the interchange points out the kind of social climate that now exists in our society.

This form of conspicuous consumption is particularly evident in the selling and buying of watches, handbags and clothes that are priced in figures that most would consider not only expensive but grossly expensive. The eyes of the materialistic sector of our society are focused on these luxury items, motivated perhaps by our tendency to judge a person by their appearance. The professor sees this tendency to judge ourselves by what we have on the outside as an on-going problem for society. Instead of real accomplishments, he believes we may be tempted to indicate that we have made it in society by displaying the worth of our material possessions. What is worse, however, is that this image becomes important for succeeding in the political world.

The professor wants us to become less interested in our attempts to embellish the exterior and to look inwardly and see the potential we all have to show our self worth--without material props.  Making this interior reality, the inner beauty, our primary value will make the world a brighter and better place to live in.

Today in the Catholic World we begin the season of Lent. A time to look at what is important in life and we begin it with the ashes on the head. We remember the values that don't change and make the effort to live these values now and every day of our life.

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