Chapter 18 Summary
“The Eighth Tuesday: We Talk About Money” opens with the headline “I don’t want my tombstone to read ‘I never owned a network.’” The newspaper is quoting billionaire Ted Turner, who had been struggling to acquire CBS at the time. Albom finds himself wondering whether Turner would really lament his lack of a network if he were facing death as Morrie was at the end of his life. Morrie explains that this is yet another symptom of the way American culture has lost sight of what is important. This lack of perspective explains why people tend to be so disillusioned about their lives.
Morrie explains that the American culture is unduly influenced by the need to acquire commercial goods, and he explains that constant advertising has led people to think that “more is good.” He shares how people constantly bragged to him about their new cars and their new acquisitions, but these things are merely substitutions for what is really important. Unfortunately, Morrie explains:
You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.
For Morrie, who knows he is dying, material things are not what he wants or needs.
Morrie, who has always enjoyed dancing and music, now finds it more moving than ever before. Looking around Morrie’s office, Albom notes that his mentor has not bought anything new since his illness. Although there are no new possessions in the house, Albom feels that the house has changed because it is now “filled with friendship and family and honesty and tears.” Perhaps the most satisfying thing of all, Morrie argues, is the ability to “offer others what you have to give,” a statement that recalls Morrie’s interview with Ted Koppel in which he revealed his fear of losing his voice.
Albom considers his attempts to impress rich athletes and realizes how misguided these attempts are. Morrie suggests that trying to impress the rich is pointless because they will look down on the poor anyway. Conversely, trying to impress the poor using one’s wealth will only cause them to feel envy. The only way to help them is to give what you have to offer. The chapter concludes with a return to Ted Turner’s tombstone; Morrie finds it a little disappointing that Ted Turner’s life has been about something as frivolous as a television network.
The chapter closes with a quote about rebirth from Mahatma Gandhi.