Confusing Being with Having
Many Americans confuse their worth or value with what they have, how much they earn and the size of their possessions. For such people, if they have more money than someone, they might be inclined to feel superior to that person. Again, if they have more possessions than someone, they may reason that they are more important than that person. Still again, if their houses or diamonds are bigger than someone’s house or diamonds, they may tend to think that they are better human beings than that person.
Being Equally Valuable as Human Persons
However, consumerism and materialism, excessively buying and accumulating lots of things, in no way reflect the true value or worth of a person. Of course, they are indicative of what he or she has, not whom he or she is. That is to say, money and things refer to objects, things, which are external to a human being. But he or she is superior to them in being a subject, that is, a person.
The Declaration of Independence teaches that all human beings are “created equal.” That means they have the same human nature. That is also why those who have lots of money, things and big possessions are not superior to those who lack such things. Thus, humans are equal in being, that is, in dignity or worth as persons.
A Loss of Possessions, not a Loss of Being
Another reason for not confusing being with having this: If my having is confused with my being, then if I lose what I have, such as my wealth and possessions, through, say, some misfortune, then I may no longer feel like I am anything, not being valuable anymore. That mentality may lead to depression (over the alleged loss of personal value), despair (giving up on life) and even suicide.
Therefore, you are not what you have! You are a person, and a person is intrinsically, that is, in worth of being, infinitely superior to things. In other words, one person is worth more than all the riches and finest things in the world, because he or she is the imago Dei, the “image of God.”
In short, you, a human person, are more important than material possessions and financial profits. In forgetting that truth, there may be an inclination to succumb to an inferiority or a superiority complex.