I had written this after the Virginia Tech shootout and I write again – capitalism is a great slave, but a pathetic master. This truth unfortunately gets lost in our chase for that elusive dream... especially in America, the land that has been marketed as the land of dreams – the Great American Dream. It’s the dream of being independent masters of our lives, the dream of making big bucks and the dream of being happy – even if that happiness is being bought by money, which all of them chase out there. No doubt, the US, on its part, has been fairly successful in creating material comfort aplenty. It has upped the living standard of its average citizen to an extent that it stands amongst the highest – even if that is a result of more than 200 years of unbridled growth and exploitation. Thus, the shop window of Americanism looks lucidly attractive; you’ve got all of them standing there – from Bill Gates to Michael Dell – in Tommy Hilfigers and Ralph Laurens! And that is what has made the rest of the world mindlessly chase Americanism, not necessarily happiness or an ideal form of society. All because the shop window looks very impressive and it has been marketed very well.

What goes unseen and almost unheard is that America also happens to be the land that is right amongst the top in terms of the number of divorces per thousand, the number of single-parent families per thousand, the number of old people in old-age homes, the number of rape cases per million, the number of suicides, homicides, and of course, the number of college/school shootouts... And why not! After all, in a society where ‘what you are’ is equal to ‘what you have’ plus ‘what you consume’, the only way to achieve more is to have and consume more (That’s why we call the US a consumerist society, and its culture, consumerism), and therefore, be constantly driven towards higher profits and materialism. Expectably, this materialism comes at a cost that the world is paying today. The interesting thing about material things is that they only give an illusion of happiness; and even such happiness always is momentary in nature. Ergo, at this juncture, after buying your new car or flat-screen TV, you feel you are the happiest person in the world; and just a few days later, these are the very possessions that cease to make you happy, because you are already thinking of a bigger car or a bigger TV. While you chase the bigger car to become larger than life in order to be happier, you sacrifice those that have the maximum power to make you happy – family, emotions and love. Prolonged abstinence in employing emotions finally destroys them; and you don’t even realise when you’ve become a dry-eyed moron (Yes! America also happens to be the land that has the maximum number of dry-eyed people). And then, while chasing never ending desires, one day you are left alone... probably divorced, without children, and in an old-age home (Even if not exactly that, the situation is often closer to what I have described, than not). And suddenly, you realise that there is emptiness all around... and you land up in a Deepak Chopra workshop to find out the ‘real meaning’ of life – or whatever he is capable of explaining. But by then, it’s really too late.  Read More....

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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