Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals

Ever heard that saying?  It affects all areas of life.  We tend to become who we spend the most time around.  It is one of those basic human weaknesses that we desire to fit in, be influenced, and pick up attitudes, behaviors, and mannerisms of those we associate with regularly. 

When we are in kindergarten we call it socialization, as teens we call it peer pressure, and as adults we try to perceive ourselves as individuals and somehow immune.  Nonetheless the influence creeps in subtly by the jobs we work, families we are part of, social activities we engage, churches we attend, and media and music choices we make.  Yes, we pick our groups so we acknowledge we have choices in the matter but that in and of itself shows that we do recognize and participate in the process of submitting to the pressure of influence of the company we keep.  If it were not so than why would we not feel comfortable in expressing our individuality by being alone?  Why would we be discontent with what we refer to as loneliness?

Resumes and obituaries often list all the associations we have aligned ourselves with as well as our own descriptions of ourselves:
  • I'm a Republican (or Democrat)
  • I'm a member of the Baptist church
  • I'm a veteran
  • I'm a vegetarian

All these things indicate where our alliances are and those of like mind will be drawn to us and others will recognize them as our boundaries or areas where we are likely to disagree.  Even seemingly small questions like "do you drink?"  tells something about what we find acceptable or not and immediately let us know if we have something in common or not.

What does this have to do with money?  In the past two elections when one states themselves to be a Republican or a Democrat has often been a clear indication of not only their own monetary ideology but also what they believe the countries national policy should be.  Though they might disagree in measure they will probably agree in principle.

I love detective stories where the leading characters must follow the clues to find the culprit.  "Follow the money" which is one of the primary methods of tracking ones behaviors, motives, and activities.

Most of us try to think of our finances as a compartmentalized aspect of our lives, as if it is somehow separate from who we are.  The reality of it is that how we handle money from gaining it to managing it shows much about who we are and our own motives, ideals, and priorities.  We further tend to align ourselves with those we feel compatible with for shared encouragement, achievement of common goals, and shared lifestyles.

So for all of us who desire to be doing better it is a good idea to check ourselves to recognize and acknowledge what influences we are allowing to permeate our thinking and then align ourselves with the direction and people moving toward where we as individuals need to go. 


Practical Parsimony said...

I have found myself on the outside of groups I wanted to be part of because of my unwillingness to go to retreats. Why should I go out of town to share a room with someone I don't know well or may not know at all--snorerer? drinker?slut?

I have been around people with nothing in common with me and don't want to spend a weekend with someone who comes and goes all night and brings "company" back to the room or has an addiction. Besides, I don't get retreats at all.

Many of these people had more than I, but I have found out in the last thirty years, their financial status has led them to being homeless--going back to parents, living with kids, or marrying one man after another to get someone to be with or get support.

Shoppers don't want me going along for the fun. I have had women complain because I just look and never buy.

Educated people who drink little, smoke politely if at all, and who shop at Goodwill are my kind of people. Conversation is excellent and drama is minimal.

You are so right about the fitting in. The trouble is I don't care if I fit in if the issue matters to me.

As for the election, money is not the issue, social issues that deal with ideology are the issues that matter more. Of course, I want to find a candidate that feels exactly like I do, an impossible thing to do. I care about women's issues, first and foremost. The candidate who cares about those issues often comes with a set of financial stances that I agree with.

Carol Schultz said...

Sounds like you have stepped back far enough to review your own thoughts and then make some choices based on your values. That was the point of the post. It is so easy to go with the flow and not even realize we are becoming influenced, maybe in ways we don't want. Just part of our way of life and t.v. is often at the top of the list. Over the years we absorb so much that is around us it is hard to tell were we end and others begin in our perspectives.

Anonymous said...

It's natural to compare yourself with those around you. That becomes your "normal". Growing up with an sculptor dad, I thought everyone was an artist or at least lived like one. Poor, but surrounded by cool, beautiful stuff. It was huge shock to visit a classmate's home and see MATCHING "Early American" furniture in the living room. (My dad picked up stuff off the curb or from thrift stores.) The classmate's parents were "at work". (My dad carved in our cellar or outside, so was often home.) When my husband and I married we knew money would be tight and our frugal choices followed suit. But our boys are a product of their experiences as well. "All" their classmates have cell phones, live in homes with new matching furniture, take vacations, and get their clothes at the mall. It's hard to convince them our lifestyle is somehow OK. Especially as these kinds of things are expected by their peers. "What's your cell number?" "Did you see that great show on cable last night?" What did you do over the summer?" Any ideas to help them cope with the differences?

Carol Schultz said...

Enjoyed your comment about matching furniture :) Shows how much we absorb our environment without even being aware of it.

While my kids were growing up they always thought me so different from the average and they wanted to be "normal". Now at almost closer to 30 they "get it". Yes, they have modified to suit their own thing but are able to recognize and even embrace some of the differences and understand why I made the choices I did. Think we just have to keep teaching and trusting that it will be understood.