Materialistic Society Destroying Family Traditions & Values
By LA Hall
I can imagine myself as a contestant on a game show. The game is simple – the host says a word or phrase and the person playing must say the first thing that comes to mind. Something like this:
Host: “American Society”
The reason why the word materialistic comes to mind is because we live and have lived in a society where material things are our most important possessions. It is as if we have become a selfish society and have forgotten about family traditions and values. People now focus on ways to reach top social status and will do anything they can to do so. Once a person receives the amount of desired capital, he or she decides to either purchase a house full of rooms, which will possibly be vacant, or obtain all types of expensive cars and gadgets to look wealthy and exaggerate happiness.
There are many examples of those who illustrate the notion of a materialistic society. We can focus on David Siegel, the owner of Westgate resorts. David, as described in the documentary film The Queen of Versailles, was a child who came from a family who had nothing, but they still found a way to provide for him. He saw his parents struggle and decided he didn’t want to live his life that way. David reached a high level of success and fulfilled his goal of having a substantial amount of personal wealth. The values that he had as a child – remembering his parents giving all they could just to get a chocolate bar – are hidden from his own children. David goes on to get all the expensive material things you could think of – big houses, nice cars, expensive furniture, etc. His children grow up never having to work for anything and become spoiled, while having unrealistic views of everyday life in relation to the rest of the world. Those children never get a proper bearing in the world or the experience that David had, and all traditions and values are lost, creating a generational curse (Queen of Versailles).
Personally, being raised in an unstructured but family oriented household by my grandparents, I’ve learned to keep family traditions and to always hold true to my values. Three of the most vital values/traditions my family holds were to never forget your race/ethnic background, remember those that fought to get you here, and to always fear God. I strive for success daily but I can never reach a level of happiness with material things. I will only be great if I do it while staying true to who I am and how my family taught me to be. No matter where I go, I will always have things that will remind me of my precious family traditions and values. I will do everything I can to make sure my children adopt the same mindset.
“Spirt Plaques”, 2014. Courtesy of Apartment Wall.
These are wooden plaques that I have had in my life since I was about three years old. These hung on my grandmother’s walls in our home. As I grew older I always looked to these items for strength and encouragement. When I graduated High School and went off to college, my grandmother made sure I had these with me. She told me that I should keep these with me, always remember that God is watching over me and has me in his hands. I will never forget the value these hold and will pass these along to my children.
“POW MIA Flag,” 2014. Courtesy of Apartment Wall
This is a flag that my grandfather had since the days he was in the army. The letters stand for US military personnel taken as “Prisoners of War” or listed as “Missing in Action”. I have two siblings and my grandfather gave each of us a flag when we were younger to let us know that there are people who might never see their families again and to always be thankful for having ours. I also have this item with me in college and it will hang in my home in the future.
“Black Power Salute Poster,” 2014. Courtesy of Apartment Wall
This is a poster that hangs in my room while in college. The poster is a picture of the black power salute given at the 1968 Olympics. The salute was an act of protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics. I have this poster because it reminds me about the people that made a way from me. I ran track in high School and this was always an image that I loved and hung it up to show my pride for my people.
This post was completed as part of an assignment interpreting the “material culture” of home, and how objects, keepsakes, and ephemera from our domestic lives contribute to our social identities. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-the-archeology-of-home/