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Caught in a Trap

By Holly Barnhart

“Anyone – regardless of their net worth –
who believes that they must be rich, that more is always better,
is a self-condemned prisoner of the 'golden ghetto'.”
                                                     – Jessie H. O'Neill

Money is such an explosive subject in our lives. It seems that many people have gotten caught in a trap in our country and we are floundering for a way to pull ourselves out.

Many people think that because ‘everybody’ uses loans and credit, it is an acceptable way to have a good lifestyle. We deserve things just as much as the next person does. Then when we fall into the money pit, we want a magic wand to wave over the whole mess and pull us out.  Quick fixes just seem part of the whole deal.  But what happens when we receive the help, but don't change our lifestyle?

We have every intention that we are going to change.  All we need is a clean slate and everything will be wiped away, and we will start over and never spend like that again, right?  Wrong!  Good intentions aren't going to pay the bills. Patterns tend to repeat themselves unless people make an effort to change them. It is too easy to say that as soon as our debt is erased, we will be good about our spending habits.

Then something comes up that we have to have, or it won't be there the next time, or our friends want to go out and we aren't going to stay home and be lonely just because we don't have the cash, or we have a crisis and we have to use the money. Or we tell ourselves, “Everyone has (fill in the blank), and I am not going to be deprived anymore. I work hard, I deserve some fun,” Then we get the credit card bill.  We pay the minimum, because we need the cash for other more important things, and guess what?  In a couple of months, we have this huge credit card bill, and we don't know what happened.

We are all sick, and we don't have a clue that we are dying.  We are writhing with the fever of ‘me me me’, and we need a cure.  The sickness is called Affluenza.

Af-flu-en-za n. 1. The bloated, sluggish, and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste, and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

Why do people in our country think that we are entitled to things?  We are blind.  It is all for me, and who cares about you.  I want more because I am entitled to it.  Who cares if your mom is dying, you don't know where you will get food for your kids, and you have cancer.  That's your problem.  I have my own stuff to deal with.  We are the 'Land of the Free'. Free from what?  Reality?

Whatever happened to loving your neighbor, or family helping family, or the whole neighborhood getting together to raise money for the Joneses because they are having a hard time – after all, they'd do it for us if we were down.  People are hurting all around us, all the time, and we don't care anymore.

College students go to school and the first semester they are inundated with credit card offers.  When they graduate, they will be rich, so why not use the card?  Then because they will be rich, why not start living in the lifestyle now?

Husbands leave their wives and family because they are entitled to some happiness.

Families move away from each other so that they can make something of themselves and find their own way.

Selfishness is so much part of how we think in this country that we are totally lost when it comes to thinking about any other needs except our own. Even within our own families, many of us are fighting against each other to have or be the best.

If anyone cares enough to read all the way through, then maybe, you can be part of the cure for the sickness in this country.  It won't be overnight, instant, or free of hard work. You probably won't get any money out of it. Maybe a sense of integrity and knowing you are helping change our way of thinking will be payment enough.

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