Shawn Mercer is a sophomore integrated life sciences major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact
Shawn Mercer at [email protected]
Often we describe our society as individualistic with members who search for an identity for themselves, looking for a niche that ultimately fits them. We tend to think that their decisions are driven by pure self-interest and that their actions are done solely to their benefit. This is far from the truth.
We are a society of friends and family. The decisions we make are made with friends and family in mind.
One of the most amazing and awe-inspiring consequences of this are the sacrifices that parents make for children and how much our parents do to give us a better life than they had. First off, the basic run-of-the-mill parenting obligations should impress. They changed our diapers, they burped us, they lost countless hours of sleep feeding us in the middle of the night and, ultimately, they loved us.
On top of their basic duties, when possible, they bought us some of the nicer things in life, like an iPod, bike or basketball. Then, as we turned toward adulthood, they helped us buy a car, pay for college and send us off, having done a lot to help ensure our future success.
This is clearly not a greed-driven individualistic enterprise. The love between parents and children is just one of many relationships that guide our daily choices, and we must not forget that it goes both ways.
In the event that our parents become too ill to care for themselves, we lend a hand to assist them in living as independently as possible. We mow their lawns, call them every week, visit when we can and take care of them.
Describing this situation in economic terms, a sacrifice of time and money is somewhat comparable. Even if we do not give our money to the ones we love, time is valuable, though in a less obvious way. There is unquantifiable power and worth in the comfort and care that we give to one another.
This is just as evident among friends.
It is impressive to just look at how much money we spend hanging out with each other. Going to the movies, grabbing a bite to eat and attending a sporting event are just a few ways we spend money just to be with each other.
Additionally, we treat friends now and again to a meal, spot them a dollar and try to help them when they are down on their luck. We take care of one another because we trust that help would be lent us if we were down.
Finally, we show our affection toward our friends and family annually by buying each other gifts at Christmas. Many businesses count on the sales that occur during this time of year to make or break their business. Probably the single largest annual fluctuation in consumerism is centered on giving. If this does not demonstrate that we are a society run on the love of friends and family, I do not know what else will.