After walking through the mall, I have realized why I have come to hate our materialistic culture, especially in regards to fashion. It is because neither fashion nor clothes has never made an iota of difference in the world—fads have come and passed without leaving any kind of significant mark. Yet the amount of time, thoughts, and money spent on clothes and fashion is staggering.
But books, books are different, because books contain ideas. Consider the words of John Maynard Keynes at the end of one of his long books on economic principles: “Sooner or later, for better or for worse, it is ideas that matter.” Don’t believe Keynes? Look at history.
From the mind of Adam Smith came an idea that has profoundly affected the world–capitalism. (Can even the most hard-core shoppers and fashion enthusiasts admit to honestly caring about what Adam Smith wore?) Buddhism and Islam were essentially ideas about the purpose and meaning of life and about relationships with God and others. Jesus Christ revolutionized the world with his ideas, and two thousand years later he remains the most talked about character in history. Adolf Hitler was affected by Marxism, and his radical ideas sealed the fate of millions of Jews. Democracy, socialism, communism, anarchy, and monarchy were all born as ideas. And in the history of the world, very few people have lived unaffected by government.
Ultimately ideas will decide the fate of the United States, and will save the world and determine the course of humankind. Whereas material goods seem to perpetuate the problem of the rich and the poor, it will be ideas that lift entire civilizations out of poverty and enable them to be self-sufficient. So what is the next big idea? And what will individuals be willing to do for it?