Are The Terrorists Right?

So I took my lunch break at the Mall today. Taking a break from the string of fast food places near the office. As I walked around the Mall sipping my Iced Mocha Latte (lest any of you think I that I have somehow removed myself from the posh American lifestyle), I marveled at all of the options crammed into the mere 1.3 million sq ft of retail space. As of late, I have noticed that a large portion of the wares offered in our capitalist society can best be summed up as crap. And when I use the word crap, it refers to clutter or junk not so much the other connotation of poo that is oft associated with this word. Now to be fair, much of the crap sold in stores today is merely crap to me. That is to say, it is something that has no use whatsoever to me (or I already own 3).

BUT beyond the differing utilites to different people there is an astounding amount of utter and total crap on the market. Seriously, the next time you are shopping look around and think about how much of the products being offered "matter" in any large view of things — or even how many things will even be used a month after being purchased. It has reached the point that the only novelty in "novelty items" is that anyone would actually buy them. But people do. The market value of any item is defined as a willing buyer and a willing seller — but honestly, the American buyer has become all too willing. Forget the record low interest rates or quick and easy credit terms, the real problem is that we will buy just about anything at any price these days.

As I pondered the meaning of the ever reduced standards placed on products by the adoring public, I realized that the terrorists are PARTIALLy right. The best lies are those that are filled with half-truths — and the Jihading terrorists are supported by lies. But let's look at the underlying half-truths. American's do love stuff and we buy a LOT of it. Capitalism/commercialism have long been a fundamental principal of the "West" and most of that stuff is at best for our amusement/entertainment and at worst merely crap.

WHY? Why do we spend so much time and effort gathering wealth so that we can turn around and spend it on stuff that ultimately doesn't make us happy? Ultimately being the key word. Sure, a lot of stuff is great for a while – a few rare items will even bring you joy for years to come… but ultimately, the fulfillment fades and we search for something else to fill the void. The 2nd half-truth: stuff doesn't make you happy. Doesn't feed the soul. Doesn't fulfill the inherent desires in all of us… What does, well, that's a whole other hour of philosophizing…

But let me be clear here. The terrorists are WRONG. Fiscal fulfillment, while fleeting, is NOT intrinsically evil. Our obsession with stuff, our "decadence", does make it easier to scapegoat America as the cause of all that is bad in the world. We have, they don't — we must have some how taken it away from them… We are powerful, they are not — we either caused their pain or should have prevented it. Ok, ok, end rant.