Material misunderstandings

To be honest, the sentence that “a man is what he drives” is not really true. As much as I would wish it was – as it would give us cars quite some importance – you humans are so much more than that. But, sadly enough, this phrase is true for us cars – we are who drives us. And even more sadly – you guys don’t realize this fact, or the huge responsibility associated with it. We material things are made by you, we work for you and because of you, and so we are what we are due, for and through you. And this is a damn big responsibility that you have there!

Think about it. We cars, for example, don’t have any facial expressions. Our drivers are our faces. If they are happy, we are happy, if they are sad, we are sad, and if they are angry, we are angry. And the same is true for other things. Think of all those sad drawers standing in sad living rooms, all those stupid TVs flickering in stupid minds, those ugly office desks standing in ugly firms, those lonely beds in lonely bedrooms, those unhealthy T-shirts over unhealthy bellies, those poisonous nail polishes on poisonous nails, those empty wallets in empty pockets.

A happy book is a well-loved book with lots of things scribbled over it, lots of dog-ears and coffee stains. A happy jeans is a well-loved jeans, with many holes that have been patched over, where the fabric is so worn that it has almost become transparent in some spots. A happy stove is a well-loved stove, a stove whose surface is sparkling & well-kept, a stove that has cooked many delicious meals and contributed to many convivial dinners. A happy gold necklace is a well-loved necklace that has been passed down through many generations of women, treasured by each one of them, its stories told many times, its beauty exhibited at many festive events. And because we are not only who we are for you but also because of you, the happiest of all books, the happiest of all jeans, of all stoves, and of all gold necklaces are the ones that also have been bound, sown, built and crafted by skilled book-binders, tailors, fabricants, and gold smiths who love their trades.

Some of you humans condemn materialism. But again you get it all wrong. No, a materialistic world is nothing bad. The material things that you guys invented and that you put into your lives are awesome! They make your lives easier, they allow you to do things you would never even have dreamed of a few decades, let alone centuries ago. They can make your lives more beautiful, more convenient, more exciting, even sometimes more meaningful (take me as an example ;-). No, material things are not bad. It is the lack of respect, the lack of relationship with these material things that is so rotten. You guys should not care less, you should care more about the material things in your lives. But caring in the sense of not just wanting us, but actually being considerate, responsible and respectful of us. This would mean, for example, trying to extend our life spans, to repair us instead of replacing us, to make us pretty, useful and sturdy.

At the beginning of the industrial revolution you humans still had the suitable awe and respect for us material things. We still were valued, and not simply disposed of. Your grandparents were thankful for having us in their lives, and they would take care of us flat irons, frocks, dishwashers, coffee machines, electric stoves, leather shoes, cars, radios, TVs, telephones, and whatnot other results of human ingenuity. When the two oldest kids of my family got their first sneakers (those really cool ones with lights that blink at every step!), their granddad went to a store and bought them a rag so they could clean their new sneakers carefully every evening. And when his washing machine died after 30 years he was really upset that it had only lasted for such a short time.

So dear Millennials, dear Gen Xers, dear Baby-Boomers, just this: You are spirits in the material world. But that’s just fine. As long as you guys keep those spirits.


Hint: The Police, 1981.

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