In Di Tran’s forthcoming book, “Drop the FEAR and focus on the FAITH,” a particular chapter strikes a chord for many readers. It’s a reflection on a singular incident during Tran’s middle school years, shortly after immigrating to America.
A middle school peer once approached Di Tran, surveying him from head to toe, and posed a peculiar question: “How much is your entire body worth?” This wasn’t a philosophical query but a literal assessment of the materialistic value of his clothing and belongings. The same kid subsequently boasted about his own outfit – a pair of Nike shoes, Nautica and Tommy Hilfiger clothing, capped off with a trendy hat. He smugly declared, “My body is worth $50+.”
Being new to the American culture and still grappling with the English language, Tran didn’t fully comprehend the interaction. English acquisition was his top priority, while overcoming his inherent shyness took a close second place.
The superficial valuation by his classmate may have seemed trivial, but it is symbolic of a deeper societal malaise that is captured poignantly in numerous literary works. As Thorstein Veblen highlighted in his groundbreaking book, “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” conspicuous consumption and the flaunting of material goods often becomes a measure of one’s worth in consumer-driven societies. Such values, when imbibed at a young age, can lead to a lifetime of chasing materialistic goals, often at the expense of personal growth and meaningful contributions.
Di Tran’s reflections on that episode in his book are not just about recounting a personal anecdote; they are a critique of the flawed values that such incidents represent. As he matured and gained perspective, Tran realized the limitations of evaluating one’s worth based on material possessions.
Drawing inspiration from works like “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, Tran emphasizes the transient nature of materialistic pursuits. In Tolstoy’s novella, the protagonist Ivan Ilyich grapples with existential despair as he confronts his mortality, realizing that his materialistic pursuits have rendered his life meaningless. Such profound reflections underscore the idea that real value in life is derived not from what we possess but from our actions and their impact.
Today, as a father, Tran strives to impart this wisdom to his children, emphasizing that it’s not what they have, but what they do that truly adds value to life. His message is crystal clear: The worth of an individual is not determined by the brands they wear but by their character, actions, and contributions to society.
In conclusion, Di Tran’s narrative serves as a powerful reminder of the perils of materialistic obsessions. Drawing from both personal experiences and classic literary references, he champions the idea of finding worth beyond material possessions and focusing on leaving a meaningful impact on the world.