Riches I Heed Not

It kills me inside when I see people whose only aim in life is to be rich. Not be happy, not work hard, not do something actually useful for humanity. Just be rich.

Fuck capitalism with a shovel. (And yes, that was a blatant promotion of my Twitter account.)

It's a sad reflection on our society that this is what we've come to. Money is fundamentally an abstract entity exchanged for tangible things, the lubricant of a system based on hurting, oppressing and marginalising every living thing on the planet in various different ways. What these people tell me is that they don't give a shit about all that. They just want to get to the top of the pile and can't even be bothered to put the hard work in. Why? Because they want to buy shit, of course! Our society is centred around youth, sexual attractiveness (not beauty - that's a different kettle of fish altogether), wealth, and power, all shown through the acquisition of material goods and services. And, like good little sheeple, those people I know want to be young, sexy, rich, powerful, and they'll consume until they die in an effort to gain status and privilege over others.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand that urge. People want to be powerful. They don't want to be oppressed. Hell, people act sadistically towards anyone who isn't in their in-group and they've got no qualms about it, because it's fun.

This is where I stop understanding. Yeah, sure hurting other people is fun, but isn't it more gratifying to help them? Doesn't it make you double up in pain to see someone else suffering as perhaps you suffered once? Don't you think everyone deserves the privilege you want for yourself, or else that you should stop being so selfish and shallow when the world's falling apart? Don't you think you might actually have to fucking work for something once in a while, or are you too precious to get your hands dirty? Don't you think if you're going to fucking work for something you should work for the good of all, not just yourself?

Call me a communist, socialist, collectivist, pinko, whatever the political insult du jour is. I have had enough of a world that cares too much about buying random shit and too little about the welfare of living things. I have had enough of a system of oppression and marginalisation. I have had enough of people saying that this system is the best, or even good. I'm fed up of the greed and incompetence of successive generations tripping up humanity every time we try to move beyond stupidity and cruelty, and I'm fed up of people trying to justify that stupidity and cruelty with the excuse that it's "human nature". If that makes me a pinko, so be it.

I'm not naive; I know that people need money to eat, put a roof over their heads, pay taxes, and do a whole host of other necessary things. But wanton consumption isn't one of them. Wealth beyond your wildest necessities and imaginings isn't one of them.

Neither do money and material things buy happiness. It's a tired old cliché - but it's a tired old cliché because it's true. You can have privilege served up to you on a silver platter and still be suicidal. It's not exactly unheard of.

I'm not going to claim to have the secret to happiness, because I don't. But I am going to claim that feeling secure, having loving and supportive people around you, and having something to live for are much, much better at making people happy than obscene amounts of an abstract entity that one will never be able to spend, or ridiculous amounts of goods and services.

I want to go into research, a choice that seems to have flummoxed many people - partly because a depressing amount still ask me what theoretical physics actually is (shamefully, I've taken to answering them that it's "the stuff they do at CERN" because otherwise they give me bewildered looks) and partly because unless you're Brian Greene or Stephen Hawking the money's crap. Doesn't matter. I'd rather be doing a job I've always wanted to do, even if I end up living in a crappy apartment, than sit in an office all day making enough to make Solomon blush and hating every minute of it. Does that make me idealistic? Very. Do I really give a shit? No. There are more important things in life than money. There really are.


  1. Good for you! The office drones often haven't the time or joy left to spend all that dough anyway. Doing something you love is intrinsically worthwhile (as is theoretical physics!). Driving a BMW is not.


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