By Mazwi Tyson Zondi

The concept of individualism is one of the best concepts to ever penetrate popular culture, because it taught us to think. It taught us not to blindly accept the stories of separation that our longstanding cliques and groups usually tell. Individualism has given us the autonomy to consciously shape our destinies. But just how much does self-empowerment help us in building a more aware, socially mature human race?

Our outlooks on the activities that our parents and grandparents participated in (religion and patriotism, just to name two) have largely changed. But our definition of  “success” hasn’t. We still believe that a surplus of the biggest and the newest possessions will increase our social standing (very likely), and will therefore make us happier (not so much). In essence, we haven’t changed our destination, just the route we take to get there.

That’s why we’ve got high school students talking about how their life purpose is to be rich, and why “High-Paying Jobs” is almost a mantra for them.

It’s puzzling how, after all this time, we still do not see how disastrous a life based on nothing but money and capitalism can be. The media has a story out at least once every year about how another “rich and successful person” has committed suicide. This, on its own, should make one question just how big of a role money really contributes to one’s happiness.

This is not to disregard money, or the part it plays in our lives. But there should be more to life than “working my butt off to buy the latest iPhone,” don’t you think?

Expanding our consciousnesses and using that to better navigate our jobs and our educational system and our place in the world – that’s still something we’re learning how to do. There is no known template for it; we’re all creating the template ourselves. That is a sign that our world is changing for the better.

As long as we do not glorify the manipulative Machiavellian lifestyle that puts money at the centre of the universe.

We need a greater purpose than that. We are capable of telling a better story than that. We need to be making our society more inclusive. We need to promote solidarity, acceptance, and love.

The question should be extended from “how do I get rich?” to “how do I get rich, so that I can make a difference in the world?” Asking the former is seeking notoriety and recognition in a number. The latter question means cultivating your strengths and using them to make a lasting change.

It is only then, that we’ll find out that using our knowledge of self to facilitate the growth of our collective society is the noblest pursuit there is.

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