Lauryn Hill is best known as a singer and songwriter, but she is also a poet. At Def Jam Poetry, she read her poem, “Motives and Thoughts.” It is a poem made of rhyming couplets (Hill), which encompasses Hill’s typical tone, and Hill’s poem resonates with those who have witnessed social class barriers. Her poem could be construed to be a poem about inequality or taking advantage of others. However, when one considers the language in her poem, “Motives and Thoughts” is clearly a poem about consumerism.
Americans are known for their consumerism, and while consumerism drives economies, it also creates lust, greed, and persuasion. The need for more is ever-present in American society, and everybody wants it. Individuals are willing to commit amoral acts for the chance to have more. Those who distribute more and stand to gain from consumerism teach that having more will lead to more happiness. Individuals equate having things with having happiness, so they are willing to bypass their own morals and ideals in order to obtain.
Lauryn Hill warns against the deception of advertising. She notes that there are “rotating bodies” bound by each other and negative images that derail us from morality. She notes that our delusions are purposely carried out in a way that can be assumed to be intentional by those who stimulate those delusions. However, she also notes that this obvious trickery is easily suspected, but it is also easily detected. She basically says that we can prevent this action by remaining true.
Hill also notes that remaining true does not lead you to the solution of anti-consumerism. She notes societies’ scandalous treatment of the effects of misspent psychological treatment on those who did not benefit. She basically compares psychological treatment to that of consumerism, as those who get psychological treatments are forced to pay.
The success of others is used as a ploy to those who have been entranced with the idea that they need more. In Hill’s poem, this occurs when he say that some will not be able to see through the emperor’s new clothes (Hill). The emperor’s new clothes are a metaphor for the lives promised by those who are peddling goods.
Lastly, Hill uses her rhymes to add tone to her poetry, and in this case, the tone is a warning to those who fall so foolishly involved in having material goods. Her rhymes allude to the instinctual ignorance of mankind and how individuals are consistently manipulated.
Hill ends her poem by giving use hope but instructing us to check our motives and thoughts. Our motives indicate purpose, and they can be seen through the actions of many people who do not hide it well. If a person’s motive is for self-gain, he or she may be apathetic to the actions or feelings of others. One must ensure that apathy does not invade the hearts of our loved ones.
“Check your motives and thoughts,” is an apt title for this English poem (Hill). Hill notes the appeal of consumerism, the perceived necessity of consumerism, and the deceitfulness of consumerism; however, she does not denote all possibilities for its misuse. She notes that one must check to evaluate the motives behind the actions of others. One may have differing goals or objectives. Likewise, the thoughts of individuals are what drives behavior, and it could be argued that if one can control his or her own thoughts, that they can become immune to the dreams of consumerism. Just because someone tells another someone that life will be better than it is if they commit a certain action, others recognized that no opportunity exists to the extent that a successful business will provide.
- Hill, Lauryn. (n.d.). Motives and thoughts. Def Jam Thoughts. Retrieved from https://genius.com/Lauryn-hill-motives-and-thoughts-annotated