There is an old adage which says, "The root of all evil is money." This, however, is not true in America. In America, money is not the problem, the love of money, or materialism, is the problem. Materialism is at the core of our American dream. We grow up learning that success is rooted in material wealth and power. We live in a country where material things mean more to the general populous than a good education, where material things dictate the amount of money we spend, and where material things motivate our lives in most every way; something needs to change. Realizing that we are corrupted by materialism is not difficult. What is difficult, however, is finding a solution to the problem.
Habits recognizes the difficulty by saying, "And since we have believed in that dream for a long time and worked very hard to make it come true, it is hard for us to give it up, even though it contradicts another dream that we have that of living in a society that would really be worth living in." (Bella, et. Al. 285)
Materialism is closely tied to our individualism. We are taught to pursue our materialistic American dream, to get ahead in life, to be somebody, to pursue our own happiness. Even our own Declaration of Independence assumes we are individuals first and for most: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. . ." For Americans to be primarily self-reliant and selfish is not surprising. Americans only do what is beneficial to themselves, if it helps someone along the way, then that's great, but helping people is not their initial motive.
In order to have the necessary balance between individualism and community, we must be willing to give and then, only after giving, take what has been given to us. If we learn to give, and then take what has been given...