blogging, Philosophy

The Value of Life and Possessions

Weekly Quote

Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves, according to Wikipedia

When I was young, I don’t think I was such a compassionate person. I think I may have been caring and kind, but I do not think I was truly compassionate.

I did not go out of my way, nor did I always take the time to remember the details of others’ lives. I came to realize this was important and meant a lot, when someone takes a moment to enquire how they are faring.

Animals have the ability to teach compassion to anyone.

Possessions

We are possessed by the things we possess. When I like an object, I always give it to someone. It isn’t generosity-it’s only because I want others to be enslaved by objects, not me. Jean-Paul Sartre

http://www.azquotes.com/author/13003-Jean_Paul_Sartre

Satre may have been considered to be selfish to want others to be enslaved by beautiful things. This could even have been considered as lacking in compassion.

Or, did he think that others would be less bothered by the entrapment and possession of objects to the same extent that he was?

Existential thoughts

What is your relationship with the objects you possess?

Do you jealously guard treasured possessions or give them away if they are no longer useful to you, regardless of their value?

Why is it we want to accumulate so many material objects in our lives, knowing that we cannot take them with us when we are done?

Do you think Simone de Beauvoir’s quote is valid?

Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.

59 thoughts on “The Value of Life and Possessions”

  1. I used to attach more importance to things than I do today – although even then I was never a holder-onto, if that makes sense. Since moving away from the city life is simpler & we need less.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, Jo. I do not want to be one of those folks that have accumulated a house full of objects that are left for someone else to dispose of. What would be the point of that? Whilst I enjoy having certain possessions because of the lovely memories they bring back to me, I would like to live ever so simply as an older person, should I be given the fortune to be aware of an capable of that! One never knows what life will bring. Interesting that you comment that rural life has made you value possessions less? I wonder why that is?

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      1. I think it’s the not living in a city thing and not working in an office. While I still have a corporate day job, my job is in Sydney & I’m on the Sunshine Coast. I also think it’s to do with being outside more. Weirdly.

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        1. Not weird at all, Jo. I wondered if it had something to do with nature. So therapeutic and levelling. It makes you concentrate more on the essentials and less on the fluffy stuff. Perhaps that is why some folks accumulate stuff, they are replacing that energy that only the outdoors and nature can give us?

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      1. True! I was thinking of material objects. Very early on when all this started we talked with friends about how fortunate we all are to have comfortable homes, enough income and safe and happy family and friends. Can’t ask for more than that. And yes, when we travel we lead a very simple life. It’s one of the attractions.

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            1. Travel is an elixir for the spirit and a simple meal beneficial for the body. We tend to eat far more than we need to in Australia. The post war years of being brainwashed into three square meals a day aren’t so applicable to our modern lifestyle.

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  2. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I am so enlivened by art and I dread my collection being broken up when I die. This seems superficial, but it is not things I am enamored of. It is beauty, and I’d like to leave it behind me.

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    1. Interesting, Judy. The sum of the whole collection is more important than the individual parts!
      It is something we may not like, but if we are the ones who derive pleasure from this, does it matter if we can only enjoy it during our time here? Or is it really a legacy you are seeking to maintain, Judy?

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  3. Amanda I think Simone de Beauvoir’s quote is absolutely spot on. I have never felt as liberated as I did when we sold almost all our household possessions to hit the road in 2014. And now we’ve been back in a house for almost four years, and I feel sickened by what we’ve accumulated – but then Paul is a hoarder. He was definitely at odds with himself living in the caravan and not being able to collect and hoard very much. Mind you, he still did managed to hoard a fair amount, even in the van. In case you haven’t picked it on it – this is a bone of contention between us, but as it’s the only bone of contention, we get by.

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    1. I know you were cancelling your blog, Chris, so I hope you see that I have commented. I apologize for the delay in replying. Sometimes we all need a break from the computer. Even me! So Paul is the hoarder. What is behind that? Is he filling some need he has? That he is concerned about waste, or financial reasons? It is lovely that this is the only disagreement you have but given that, I am wondering how you haven’t managed to persuade him to live lighter?

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  4. Hi – I like your point about Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote and I wonder if he was being sardonic/sarcastic to drive home the point of enslavement
    And this reminded me of listening to George Carlin talk about stuff in one his stand up acts! So good

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    1. Perhaps this is what Sartre was in fact referring to, Yvette, but there is a tone in that comment, and I feel that a wordsmith such as he could have said it differently if there was compassion behind it. Having said that, it is exactly true that we should not be enslaved by our things. That is the danger and it is easy to succumb when marketing is in our face 24/7. What would Sartre make of social media marketing?

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  5. The vagaries of happenstance ! In this case you quoting Beauvoir and Sartre – I seem to have grown up in the shadow of both . . . I would always find one of hers to quote, both my husbands seemed to live in Sartre’s shadow . . . the sarcasm and cruelty the latter oft displayed was not always easy for me to take. If I did not enthuse it seemed to denote a lack of maturity and sophistication in their eyes 🙂 ! Oh yes, I agree with Beauvoir’s quote but would like to add ‘understanding’ . . . the rest cannot be there unless we at least try to put ourselves in the other’s shoes . . . As far as belongings go I definitely have matured as the decades have passed . . . what I collected was so much of who i ‘was’ I could not let stuff go. . . . but when later on I inevitably ‘lost’ things there was a discovery that as long as I was true to myself and there for myself . . . the rest were only adjuncts. With the exception of art . . . have always loved and collected . . . thru’ circumstances have had to sell some . . . and that does hurt . . .

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    1. Your husbands sound like they had a bit of intellectual snobbery happening! If I can be so judgemental. (working hard not to be but Sartre could be interpreted as mean).
      Art – I can relate to not being able to toss that away. If it brings you peace and pleasure to see it each day, keep it. We should be surrounded by beautiful items if we have them in our possessions. I have recently started using good china and pieces of crystal I never thought I would ever touch. Too valuable to be broken I thought. Yet in the house move, some got broken anyway. That was a good thing as I decreased my attachment to it and started to use other things.
      As for Simone’s quote – that is more difficult for me to react to, as I believe everyone and everyone’s life has value. Did she mean this to motivate some who were demotivated, perhaps, Eha?

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  6. I treasure most the simple gifts that I use everyday that remind me of people. Things like my coffee grinder that my father in law made, a tile trivet that we use most every night at dinner time and the crude but sturdy wooden spoons with my name written in ball point on the handle sent to me by a friend in Africa. I do not feel possessed by these things I feel enriched by them, not because of what they are or because they have monetary value, but because they bring me memories of people I have loved every day when I use them.
    In some ways that ties into the Beauvoir quote. It’s really about having emotional ties as the possession not the things. The possessions are visual aids that keep the relationships fresh.

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    1. Such a great point, XingfuMama. That these possessions keep our relationships fresh and they enrich out lives, rather than enslave us. I think that is why I do like functional art pieces. I don’t like so much art hanging on the wall, but like to use it in the form of a painted tray, bowl or cup. Your spoons sound like an example of that?

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      1. Exactly. The wood is beautiful, although the carving is primitive, it is a reminder of a caring relationship and good times. It’s also a really good design. I’ve broken several standard wooden spoons making bread, but this African one is very strong.

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  7. Timely thoughts Amanda.

    Simone de Beauvoir’s quote all the more suited perfectly to the present situation in the world.
    Jean Paul Sartre could have worded his quote better.

    Majority of us lack compassion due to EGO
    Human greed reaching another level.
    If one takes a glimpse of ‘over crowded basement’ dumped with old stuff…no more used but still useful to lesser fortunate.or
    If one checks the ‘closets’ overstuffed with contents rarely one uses……which could have been donated to the needy……

    “ As long as greed is stronger than compassion,there will always be suffering” Rusty Eric

    Ultimately being self centred or being magnanimous ( a tough job indeed), or trying to take a ‘ cat on a wall’ position ……depends on the way the person is influenced and brought-up I guess.

    One may be sympathetic to a needy but unfortunately many so called ‘ needy’ may be cheating the sympathisers and misusing the magnanimity of donors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a can of worms, PtP. How to discern the real needy? I guess that is something we have to trust. That for every one of those so called needy who might exploit donations, there are several other genuine cases that benefit.
      You are so right about our closets. I keep my clothes for years, yet can I wear them all in a week, in a month. No. Moving house was the perfect opportunity to rid ourselves of lots of accumulated stuff. I felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders and although we have bought new things, they are limited to essentials. Greed driven by ego? Yes but perhaps also by a fundamental lack of delayed gratification. Is that cynical?

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  8. Going after materialism & possessions can be very deadly. I know a close relative of mine who became obsessed with it at the cost of making all his relationships with people suffer. I personally drift away from materialism, atleast I try to. Sometimes I slip though, naturally.

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    1. We are all only but human, Saloni. I also dislike materialism and yet I have a husband and mother in law that love all those cheap, crumby gadgets that one sees in the shops. They must fulfill some need for them, but to me they are just wasted money.I don’t value them in the same way they do. This is especially evident with some folks in their clothing or art collections. I used to collect Scandinavian artifacts, but not any longer. They were meaningful to me for a time, but I saw how cluttered my house was when I went to sell it. It all went, I gave a lot away, sold a couple of things and donated the rest to charity. Moving house can be really cathartic.

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      1. Aside from my vast collection of books and “National Geographic” magazines, I don’t feel I’m a glutton for materialism. At one point, many years ago, I owned 56 suits, when most men had only 5. Regardless, materialism is what has fomented the magnificent wealth divide we see across the globe – even in developed societies. The U.S. is the richest nation on Earth (in terms of pure financial assets), yet has the highest number of children living at or below the established poverty line. We have the most number of children living without any type of formal health insurance. We also have the greatest number of children succumbing to firearm violence, but that’s a different issue. Still, materialism, like the love of money, is the root of so much evil.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Isn’t it ironic that the American dream, so materialistic has not delivered for everyone, when it sells that it can. But perhaps this is the capitalism model. Wealth for everyone, but everyone can’t have it.
          56 suits? Good lord, Alejandro. Were you on stage?

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          1. LOL! No, I worked for a bank in the 1990s and wanted to acquire a nice wardrobe. Obviously, I went overboard, but I do like nice clothes. I’m down to about 10 suits now and haven’t worn one in about 2 years.

            Well…I did some theatrical work in high school and college and into the early 90s. But I prefer to write now.

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              1. I am not surprised at all, Alejandro. I can tell you have good taste. Most Schnauzer owners do!
                Smart clothing does have a some effect on one’s confidence, I think. People notice beautiful clothes. Don’t go thinking however that I am any kind of style snob. (No, not at all, it is just nice to look smart casual). And I tend to keep basic compatible clothing for years.

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  9. My material objects have memories and emotional values attached to it. Should it be destroyed in a fire I will mourn the loss of times and people gone by. It will never come between people and I.

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  10. All I really need is a roof over my head, a comfy bed , food and water. Anything else I have is a ‘want’ not a need. When I pass on the family might think my ‘wants’ are trash but to me they are treasures.

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    1. I told my daughter that the objects and furniture in my house are of value to me. After I pass way, she can do with it what she wants to. Not to keep it just because ut was mine.

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    2. Different items can be important to different people. It seems right that when we pass on, they are no longer necessary. Then again, I so appreciate seeing old items in museums that represent a way to bring the past alive, so we should keep some older possessions, I think. But there is so much that is only appreciated by the self and not others.

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  11. Not having much growing up I learnt to treasure the friends & family we had & having had to evacuate with the last lot of fires, not the first time in having to be prepared, we are forced to assess what matters most. Thats not to say i havent accumulated things for projects on the property & in the last 2yrs i think i have done 8 or 9 tip runs. haha

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    1. Now that is a good angle on this discussion. The risk of fires forces a total review of all possessions. Many folks lost everything and for them, there is no choice about what to keep. I think a document box with deeds and family photos might be all that I would grab, in the emergency or some handmade silver jewellery I cherish.
      How do you prioritize what to put in that “fire evacuation,” box?

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      1. We have a evacuation plan for everyone in the house. First is paper work & photos. If there is time animals moved if not, horses have name & phone number written in permanent ink on there hooves & we would just release all the animals, the river is at the end of our street so we would send them all in that direction.
        A washing basket each for clothing & a couple of treasures. I also have 2 otto bins that can be wheeled onto a trailer with all the tent gear & cooking needs. Which we did take when we evacuated. But yeh first I think would be us, photos & animals.

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  12. I have a number of material possessions – many inherited from parents – but my books and “National Geographic” collection mean the most to me. They are emblematic of me and reflect who I am. Both my father and I also collected a number of model vehicles, so those are somewhat valuable to me now. Among the most treasured items in my home, though, are the myriad family photos – black and white and color – that line the walls and overwhelm picture albums. They are more than reflective of my persona; they represent my very soul. They speak to my birthright and my ancestry. That’s why the concept of family is so important to me.

    Ultimately, however, I’m fully aware of one important fact. None of those material possessions, no matter how significant they are to me, will accompany me into the afterlife. Remember, we all come into this world naked and screaming, clutching nothing but our souls in our hands. And that’s pretty much how we’ll leave.

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    1. You are right, Alejandro. We cannot take them with us. They are special and comforting to us, but what shall be done with them, when you are gone? Have you a good library to donate the books to?

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      1. I haven’t established a formal last will and testament yet – something I suppose I should do soon – but I have no particular heirs. I want whatever clothing, kitchen items and furniture to be donated to charity and any financial assets to be donated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). I do want all of my books and the “National Geographic” collection to go to a local library. Again, I haven’t set up the official will at this time. At age 56, I realize I have more years behind me than ahead, so it’s another project to complete before 2020 closes – which definitely can’t come soon enough for most of us!

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        1. Wills are something that most people do not get around to doing, at least I don’t. I have one that I did before I traveled overseas.
          I love that you have the SPCA in mind and the local library. Wouldn’t libraries be more amazing if folks did this? Maybe they would be more financial too if they could part with the excess duplicates?

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  13. The things I treasure most are those that invoke a memory, usually of places I have travelled or of the people who have given them to me. And it is the memory I treasure more than the object, but without the objects those memories would be triggered less often and less strongly, I feel

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    1. That is a great point, Sarah. The trigger of beautiful memories is often more special than the object itself. Our memories are important too. However, would a photograph of the object effect the same result? Or is the tactile feel of the object in one’s hand that is important for the memory too?

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      1. The objects I refer to are for the most part things we have on display in our home – paintings from our travels, an ornament once treasured by my parents. No, I don’t think in those cases a photo would suffice, although of course photos of places and people can have the same effect in triggering memories, and do

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