Consumerism in America – Some comments
One of my FB friends (thanks Sheila!) posted a link to this article by Val Dawson entitled Consumerism in America: How Your Stuff is Killing You and You Don’t Even Know it. (Pleas give it a read. Its good.) It made me stop and think about what it is I am working towards, what it is I am living for, what it is I hope to arrive at. Because we Americans are always pursuing towards some great goal, that when we get there we will have “made it”—it is our white whale, that thing we are always chasing but just can’t seem to get. What if the thing we were chasing were an illusion, a lie we have been told, a state of mind we have been lead to believe is how things are? Addressing this issue was precisely the impetus for our Living Deliberately Project.
“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” – Thoreau
America has been pinned as the land of opportunity, but too often it because a pit of struggle that so many fall in—or simply awake in. One day we find that we are at the bottom of this pit, the light cutting down onto the high walls around us, an overwhelming sense of loneliness weighing on us. The things we buy, the things we accrue, the things the things the things this is what puts us in the pit. We work to just keep our heads above the crashing waves of life, but dragging us, tethered around us, is the weight of the material thing…consumerism is about things and while we have tried to divorce ourselves from things that desire to get something more, to buy something new never really leaves. It is like a plague that subsides for a time only to rear up and devour whole moments of your life.
Is this too bleak? Perhaps, but sometimes a slap across the face, bleak and abrupt as it may be, is necessary to make us reflect on how things are. Dawson puts it perfectly:
We have become addicted to our pretty things and in the process we have lost ourselves and we have lost each other.
Can we break free? Can we climb out of the pit of despair? (Sorry, a Princess Bride had to be made :-)) I think we can, but it will take us looking back ourselves and choosing to divorce ourselves from the things we own and instead pursuing, pursuing that which makes real connections with the people around us. It might mean walking away from projects and from places for the sake of sanity, yourself, your relationships, your happiness…but
I We can do it. We must confront our situation, we must revolt against it, and we must make the choice to live untethered to material things.
“Not until we are lost can we begin to find ourselves.” – Thoreau