I remember watching my friend’s young children joyfully tearing open their Christmas presents last December and feeling bad for them. They are 4 and 6 years old and they are already addicted to material possessions.
Life is definitely hard but it’s also simple. The goal is happiness. And since consumerism doesn’t lead to happiness, it’s nothing but a waste of time and money.
If you give a child nothing and tell him that he has everything, he will be content. If you give a child expensive gifts every day, he will be forever discontented and always wanting more.
I am definitely not recommending that anyone give their child cigarettes. From a philosophical perspective, however, I think I’d sooner get my son addicted to Marlboros than birthday and Christmas presents. That’s because I’m certain that he’d eventually discover that life is better without cigarettes. And it seems like people never learn that their lives would be happier without all that extra stuff.
The one thing that almost everyone does need to be happy is love.
“Room” is an amazing movie about a mother and son who have nothing but each other.
The story begins in a room on Jack’s fifth birthday. Jack’s mom Joy (Brie Larson) does her best to give him a happy birthday. Jack doesn’t get a single present but he doesn’t notice that at all.
Because Jack is so normal and content, it takes a while to realize that something is very wrong. It turns out that Joy has been a prisoner in that room for seven years. She was kidnapped at age 17 by a sexual predator. Jack is his son.
For a film that takes place almost entirely inside a small dirty shed, “Room” is impressively intense and intellectually stimulating.
There is a powerful scene where Joy finally decides to tell the truth to her son. When he was little, Joy had lied and told Jack that their room was the entire world and everything they saw on television was fake. Now, when presented with the unfathomable size and complexity of the real outside world, Jack chafes and concludes that his mom must be telling him a far-fetched fairy tale.
The director is making a powerful point about how there is no one objective truth about the nature of the human experience. How you view the world is based entirely on your perspective.
If we were to suddenly be transported to a remote native village in rural Indonesia, we would be horrified and miserable due to the lack of shelter, electricity, and running water. We’d feel deprived because we wouldn’t even get to see how many times the Denver defense sacked and intercepted Cam Newton in the Super Bowl.
However, to the rural Indonesians who have never known electricity or Von Miller or Christmas presents, life seems perfectly normal. I’m certain that native Indonesian children who have nothing are just as happy as American children who have it all.
For the record, I absolutely wouldn’t give my son cigarettes. I also wouldn’t give him birthday presents, though, because I truly believe he’d be better off without them.