Thursday, September 28, 2006

T.O.'s Lesson


The hot story of the day is the T.O. and his attempted/alleged suicide. It’s a big topic of discussion down here in Philly and there has been a fairly good amount of level-headed discussion on the issue. One of the elements of the discussion which annoys, but doesn’t surprise, me is how people can’t fathom that a rich person would want to kill himself. As Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN’s TMQ, has written, money does not equal happiness. Here’s what he wrote in his most recent column.

I'll add another suggestion on why time is more important to happiness than money: Because time is far more precious. Money that has been used up can be replaced; you can always get at least some additional money, and in principle can get huge amounts of additional money. Your time on Earth, on the other hand, is limited and irreplaceable. You might add somewhat to your time on Earth by taking care of your health -- and that's an excellent idea, but there are no guarantees you won't be hit by a bus anyway. We all must surrender some of our time for work to acquire income. But those who obsessively chase maximum material possessions give up something precious and fleeting, namely time, in order to acquire something that cannot make them happy, namely money.

One final note before I sign off. Recently, in a class titled “Law, Justice & Society”, the discussion was focusing in on how, in a just society, it would ever be possible to ensure that every citizen would be able to have access to an adequate sense of self-worth. Most people in the class thought that this would require “honoring” an almost infinite amount of superlatives. (i.e. “Best Dressed” X the number of people in the society.) Some, however, believed that, in a capitalist society, the only true superlative would end up being actual wealth.

The heart of the matter is that money can not be relied on to make one happy. TO’s story shows how those dissenters from my class are wrong. Enrichment can be found in many, many forms. Often money, of course, can make that enrichment easier. But having cash is only a facilitator, not the end.

4 Comments:

At 9/29/2006 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous the hustle said...

I never thought I would be saying this, but on one hand I feel sorry for T.O. Not sorry for his attitude or his foolishness in recent years but sorry for the fact that the sports media jumped on this like teenage boys at strip club. With very little information, the sports talk radio around here spent hours on this and from what I hear, ESPN pulled out all the stops. We may not know for a while or ever what the true story is, but the media, so desperate to get people tuninging in, made this into the hot story it should not have been.
---
That was a nonesensical argument by t.o.'s chick/publicist who some have suggested to be in it just for HIS money. Stupid comments, and it is true, there are some in our society who think money is the key to success and happiness, but then they woke up.

I would like to say there is a certain level at which, once you can satisfy basic needs, like food, health, shelter, vacation time - then happiness is there for the taking. As money increases, my guess is many people feel overwhelmed by their life's increasing complexity - hence doing stupid things (although this is just speculation). However, in great contrast to this is the communal spirit of many other cultures where friendships and relationships are valued much more highly than in our America where most of us rarely, if ever, talk to our neighbors or anyone unnecessary. Sure, they may die younger, or suffer other problems, but this often leads to a more fulfilling life of working with each other to better the community. Of course this is somewhat idealist because some places, they might live in fear of being gunned down...but I think you get my point - that happiness can be found despite socioeconomics, I guess.

 
At 10/03/2006 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Cannon said...

I'm glad I was not the only one who thought the T.O.-wouldn't-kill-himself-because-he's-rich argument was nonsensical. I'm with the Hustle that money, if anything, will add to pressures and complexity and actually lead to more unhappiness. At the very least, I would argue that money doesn't contribute to happiness--provided that basic needs are taken care of.

As for your self-worth question, I feel sad for anyone who thinks that self-worth correlates to your net worth. (as an aside, I think very few people actually do) The way I see it, self-worth for most people tends to derive from one's feeling in belonging to something greater than oneself. This is where faith comes in. When you say that each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God (and better yet, is a child of God), discussions on self-worth become moot. Unfortunately, when people turn away from this faith they try to fill that void with something else--something that can never provide the same level of fulfillment. That's my 30 second opinion.

 
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