Posted Spring 08, Jackson
Since the individual (#) is a building block of society, individuals must be prominent (#) enough to stand out. Wealth (#) too is expressed in larger things.
Here in Montana the bigger your possessions, the better off you are. However, have we taken the idea of big is better too far?
Big is better can be expressed in a couple ways. First, the vastness of an object, place, anything really, can be awe inspiring. This thing can move a person to accomplish great things. For example climbing Mount Everest, painting a once-in-a-lifetime sunset, or creating the next Statue of Liberty. This big thing can also create silence. Say you visit Niagara Falls, definitely not a quiet place, however, the huge falls, rushing waters, and the wide array of colors, make you pause and reflect at the glory of nature. On the opposite end of the value, big is better can be one of the most destructive values a person can have. The need to prove yourself to others is the driving force behind this destruction. In order to show others how wealthy or powerful I am, I will buy the biggest house on the block, drive the fastest car, and everything I own will be vanity items.
The residents of Montana take pride in their state, the Big Sky state. They take pleasure in the wide open spaces and the huge mountains around every turn. If a person wanted to, they could go into the mountains and lose themselves for weeks never seeing another person. The ranchers and farmers have huge plots of land to tend to livestock or crops. The average house seems to be getting bigger and bigger. SUV's and diesel pick-ups line the streets.
The mentality of bigger is better is driving our nation into debt. Overspending has become a huge problem across the nation, and Montana is no exception. It is estimated that 20% of Americans have maxed-out a credit card, and the average debt per household is $84002. Shockingly, shopping centers are still packed with customers pushing overfull shopping carts.
Until recently, creative financing was being used, so anyone could have access to buy a house, and this was putting many American's into situations they could not afford to be in. Many of these customers were already in situations that were very comfortable, but to keep up with the Jones's, they felt the need to over extend themselves. With the latest housing crash many of these people had to forfeit their homes because they couldn't afford them anymore.
Bill Gates, a self-made billionaire, is considered by some as the world's greatest philanthropist. In 2005 Gates donated $750 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization charity, and has his own charity worth about $30 billion, is the largest charity created by a single benefactor. Gates has stated that he intends to give away 90% of his multibillion dollar fortune3. Mr. Gates is not your typical wealthy citizen. He does live big is better. He has the huge house, fast cars, and expensive trips. However, he isn't hording his mounds of cash, he donates more money to charity than most will see in a lifetime.
Every time you feel the need to spend money on something extravagant, drive to the mountains and hike. If the weather isn't permitting a hike, drive to the mountains and ski. Yellowstone National Park is close by, take a trip there. There are sites to see in the park that can be found nowhere else. These are things anyone of us can do, however, to truly get the meaning of this value, become an astronaut. It seems that the universe is infinite, go explore it. I can think of no better definition to big is better than the universe. Be the first person to set foot on a different planet. Discover a way to make space available to the public and not just trained astronauts.
To get the true meaning of big is better, have the discipline(#) to live frugally (#). If you are in a position, be magnanimous# with your charity(#). Take pleasure in your generosity (#). Nature close by, (#) in Montana is easy to come by. Take advantage of it, enjoy the beauty (#). As always, things are better in moderation (#).