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Op-Ed: ‘You’ll Own Nothing and Be Happy?’ The Seeds Were Planted in This Country Long Ago

Most of us have seen the commercial by the World Economic Forum saying, “You will own nothing and be happy,” a message delivered with all the warmth of an Apple Store. The video is obnoxious, but not everyone is repulsed by the sentiment. Before we dismiss all these people as mind-numbed zombies, I think we should ask why. I’m sure some are just bums looking for a free lunch, but I think others could have different reasons. Why is the idea of owning nothing not dismissed by everyone out of hand? Could it be that some are exhausted and grasping for an alternative to the rat race? It’s useful to remember evil is often good at diagnosing problems (because it causes them), but its remedies are always far worse than the disease. Capitalism always involves competition, but did the culture of the last 40 years shift the motives for this competition from the pursuit of happiness to the pursuit of status? I watched some commercials from the 1970s, and most of them centered on family and community. The companies highlighted the quality of their products and how they could make life easier. Then I watched commercials from the 1980s. Most of these ads focused on glamour and prestige. They often referenced how consumers would be perceived if they purchased their product. “Aspirational” is a word we have heard frequently in the last several decades. Contentment has become something that stands in the way of our “best life.” Being ambitious is important. It can improve everyone’s quality of life if we keep ambition subordinate to our values. Unfortunately, the Tony Robbins self-help book culture replaced human dignity with status. People were created to be part of a community, so we often do what makes us feel valued by others. If we feel valued for what we have instead of who we are, the bonds of relationships break down. It’s not a coincidence that anti-depressant usage has increased during this time. Misplaced values are not new to the human condition, but they have been propagated in the last 40 years to a level we have never seen before in America. The corruption of our leadership has caused serious financial problems in this country, but some of them could have been mitigated if we had guarded our priorities more carefully. None of us can take credit for the blessings we have. Plenty of people work hard and have very little. Everything we have is a gift. Many successful people have done significant things to help strengthen their communities. However, those who were only motivated by “self-improvement” left pain and emptiness in their wake. Just because we have a right to bad behavior doesn’t mean it should be encouraged. We must resist the World Economic Forum, but without a change in the heart of the culture, it will be futile. If we acknowledge what we allowed to happen in our country and commit to a better path, the One who provides our blessings will help protect us from any threat. This strategy would really unnerve Klaus Schwab. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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