The well known rapper 50 Cent coined the phrase,“Get Rich or Die Tryin”. I can’t help but think, however, what a selfish, sad, (and eventually unsuccessful) way to live life. Now, this might be my first “dis” to a rapper, so I’ll have to make it count; I want to share with you an important lesson why I don’t think any of us should emulate 50’s mantra, a lesson I think the rapper himself could benefit from.
At first glance, to some, the “I’m gonna get mine first” mentality seems like a good idea. But trust me—it is not. Under closer scrutiny this way of thinking is, as I mentioned, not only selfish but also contributes to a life left in search of more. If you covet money and fame above all else, you mimic the clown who continually kicks a hat forward as he bends down to pick it up. It is enticingly close, but always out of reach.
In my beef with 50 Cent, I do not stand alone and call into my corner, respected philosophers and teachers, Plato and Socrates. In Plato’s profound book, “The Republic” he answers the eternal question: why should we, as humans, be good?
In his book, Plato expresses a life-changing message upon which the foundation of Killing Herb Inc. was born. Together, Socrates and and Plato share why we humans should be authentically good:
“…when a man faces the thought of death there come into his mind anxieties that did not trouble him before. The stories about another world, and about punishment in a future life for wrongs done in this, at which he once used to laugh, begin to torment his mind with the fear that they may be true. And either because of the weakness of old age or because, as he approaches the other world, he has some clearer perception of it, he is filled with doubts and fears and begins to reckon up and see if there is anyone he has wronged. The man who finds that in the course of his life he has done a lot of wrong often wakes up at night in terror, like a child with a nightmare, and his life is full of foreboding: but the man who is conscious of no wrongdoing is filled with cheerfulness and with hope, ‘the comfort of old age’”.
One point Plato and Socrates, 50 Cent—zero.
Taking it a step further on the “Get Rich or Die Tryin” mindset, Plato, in his wisdom, also said:
“…divide men into three basic types, according to whether their motive is knowledge, success, or gain.”
So ask yourself, what are your motivations in life?
Discover your motivations
Though Plato may not be for everyone, we can all still find value in his words. To quote the man in plain language: those who dedicate their lives to gaining riches will ultimately “die tryin’” to get it. For those who do end up accumulating massive wealth, the hard reality is that ‘it’s not all it’s cracked up to be’ will eventually settle in. In fact, once the goal of money is achieved, a sense of void usually sinks in. It’s an emptiness that asks, “now what?”. The more money is used to feed the void, the more that the void grows. To quote another hugely successful rap song, “mo money, mo problems.”
The same can be said for those who dedicate their life to achieving recognition. If you’re willing to “die tryin” in your pursuit of fame, just like money, you may find yourself in a jail cell with invisible bars. The fame machine can become an unbearable yolk, take Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for example. Do they get to roam freely in public whenever they want without constantly being mobbed by people and camera flashes? Like those who live their entire life trying to accumulate wealth, those who work only to achieve fame will be faced with the same question: now what?
So if the suggestion is that humans shouldn’t live life in a pursuit of money and fame, what then should we be trying to achieve?
In quest of knowledge
Can we know everything?
The honest answer is, “no”. The great thing about knowledge however is this: a life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge will never leave you with a void, asking “what next?”, because knowledge can never be completely accomplished, it will always be work in progress. That being said, the person who dedicates their life to knowledge and learning, will gain wisdom along the way. In this wisdom, we find comfort.
Always learning, always evolving.