Materialism in America

By , Carson City, NV
I arrived in poverty stricken Tijuana, Mexico, my jaw dropping. Looking around, analyzing my surroundings, I realized how lucky I truly am. I never understood how much my material possessions mattered to me. Things I take for granted on a daily basis, others have never thought to dream about. Walking down the trashed dirt streets, my group and I stopped in awe. We had never seen such a sight. Literal cardboard houses, smaller then our classrooms, were lining our walk way. Children were running out to the street to see if we had any water to lend or food to offer. These families were happy to have a gallon of only half purified water and a small bag of rice that would need to last them a few weeks. We sit at home and complain we have to drink tap water and have to eat leftovers. We get upset if we have to wear the same outfit more then once a month, these people are lucky to have a single outfit. Complaining about having a one story house? Try living out of a cardboard shack. Many of us complain about having to wake up early and go to school. We are lucky. Although the Mexican government has made the education primarily free, in many cases it is a tough struggle to get children enrolled. These people had easily nothing, yet they were able to spare was an ear to ear grin, which is simple but enough. They are living a truly happy life as we sit around waiting for more. Step by step, reality had set in. People who had nothing were happy. And that’s when it hit.
Americans tend to base their happiness on materialistic needs. I realized all I really need is the love of family and friends. Nothing else should matter. Today’s society can never have enough, we always want more. The ‘must haves’ of the American culture are far different then the ‘must haves’ of other cultures. We take having a family, having friends, food, water, and shelter for granted, while others live on these things. People that have nothing are living happier life then we can picture, while we sit back and continue to find ‘happiness’ in material goods and the unspoken desire to be distracted by unnecessary means. There is a huge difference between living the American Dream compared to a Penniless Cultures Dream.

Sixty million people, half the Mexican population, live in poverty. Twenty million live in extreme poverty. Many of these families live in single room structures, serving as their bathroom, bedrooms, and kitchens. One day Americans should switch from their pursuit of material goods and find joy in friends and family. There are many other nations with vast opinions and social concepts then those of which we tend to have. Americans work to better themselves rather then lending a hand and helping others. Everyone tries to one up everyone else, but in doing so they are only ruining their joy.

Consider talking a walk in someone else’s shoes. Stop and take the time to open your eyes a little bit wider. It was easy to say the old saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Are we really a blessed country?





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