Problems with Materialism within the American Society

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American Values

In the article, Values Americans Live By, L. Robert Kohls stated this, "The different behaviors of people or a culture make sense only when seen through the basic beliefs, assumptions and values of that particular group." I agree with Kohl’s statement completely. Most people think of Americans as fat and slobby. While other people such as third world countries may think of Americans as wealthy and stuck up. I believe that materialism is getting pretty bad within the American society. However, I may not be the only one with this opinion. There are many sources and facts to back this up.

People in our society are always worried about the latest and greatest thing. Whether it be keeping up with the latest fashion, technology, etc. The company said it shipped 9.8 million iPods in the first quarter, up 21% from a year ago. Mac shipments rose 33%. Shipments of 1.7 million Macintosh computers were Apple's best ever (Graham). "The expectations have been adequately reset," Gene Munster, analyst of Apple says. Munster still believes Apple is on track to sell as many as 45 million iPhones in 2009 and "remake the wireless market" (Graham). To me, this can be a huge problem. These statistics just go to show that people in American die for the newest technology that comes about in our world. Materialism and individualism in American society are the biggest obstacles. "The thought that 'I'm in it for me' has become embedded in the national consciousness," Ms. Elshtain says in the Christian Science Monitor maginazine article “Wages of Materialism”(Coatney).

Believe it or not, the problem with materialism within the American society is not only affecting those that it surrounds, it’s also beginning to affect religions views and judgments such as Muslims. “Americans possess one of the most religious societies in the world, and in fact the world's most determined battle against materialism on cultural, philosophical, and scientific grounds; is going on right now in America. Muslims who recognize this fact make a distinction between righteous Westerners and other ones’(Akyol). In other words, Mustafa Akyol thinks that we Americans need to start thinking about more than just money, shopping, and buying the newest/latest fashion and technology. We need to start portraying the principles of decency that undergird our society(Akyol). If we fail to do this, Muslims throughout the world will start expressing their emotions and feelings with anger(Akyol). I agree with Mustafa when he says this. I think that Muslims have the right to say their opinions and viewpoints on certain things. However, the problem with materialism within the American society is not necessarily affecting Muslims all around the world. This is something that can easily be prevented as long as the American people don’t pay attention to it.

Although most people think that the problem with materialism in the American society is due to older people such as business workers, lawyers, etc. Surprisingly, the most probable cause of materialism is due to most high school kids and kids that are in college. In the article “Society” by Terry Nichols Clark, it is simply stated “There were increases of 10 percentage points or more in the proportions of high school seniors aspiring to own at least two cars, clothes in the latest style, major labor-saving appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.), a high-quality stereo, and a vacation house” (Clark). To me personally, this is a huge issue. As being a teenager in high school myself, I understand kids wanting all the finer things in life and having a nice car to drive. On the other hand I think it is a tad ridiculous to want two cars. It is just unnecessary to me because one is enough to get you from point A to point B. Also, high school kids do not need “major labor saving” appliances. As long as it gets the work done and it’s at a negotiable price, it is good enough for a high school student. Again, you may think that the problem with materialism in the American society is due to mostly older people, it is very much due to the young people in our society. Young people within the American society are not the only ones to blame. In the same article “Society”, Inglehart points out that the post materialism thesis does not posit linear change, but fluctuation with the economy, in bad times, materialism should rise. The United States and most of the world saw no real economic growth from about 1970 to 1990, and suffered several real downturns. These should increase materialism (Clark).

In the article, Values Americans Live By, L. Robert Kohl’s stated this, "The different behaviors of a people or a culture make sense only when seen through the basic beliefs, assumptions and values of that particular group." I agree with Kohl’s statement completely. Most people think of Americans as fat and slobby. While other people such as third world countries may think of Americans as wealthy and stuck up. As you know now, Muslims defiantly do not approve of our bad habits of shopping and wanting materialistic things. They want to keep the thought of family and tradition still in the minds of the people in our society. However, this thought is slowly going downward rather than up. In the article “Society” it is clearly stated where materialism seems to be growing even more than in the West, and several Western European countries (studied by Steven Brint, Paul Butts, and others), where political activism is rising, but personal commitments are often thinning. Personal freedom is on the rise; traditional families and lifestyles are in decline (Clark). Due to the fact that on a political stand point, things are rising and getting better, which also causes personal freedom to increase. This means that people will only start to think of themselves and only what they want and need. They start to forget about their family traditions and lifestyles. This is not a good thing to be happening within the American society.





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