Born to Consume?
I live on a tight budget, not unlike many of you. I felt the twinge of sadness as millions of American’s scurried off to capitalism’s temples, better known as stores and shopping malls, to get the “best” deals on the “greatest” stuff. I was sad because I wasn’t free to do the same and I was sad because I felt sad about that. Retailers and advertising gurus have done their job well. Buying and the holidays have become so completely interconnected that I feel as though I am committing high crimes against humanity and all those I love when I don’t join the Black Friday crowd before the turkey has grown cold.
But the fact remains; I don’t have a lot of money to spend on Christmas this year. So an 80 inch HDTV for grandma at 58% off is still 100% too expensive. But even if I did have the cash, should I be placing my focus on being a consumer for holiday’s sake? Some would certainly think so. A recent AP article entitled “Why Must We Buy? Black Friday’s Powerful Pull” was an insightful and eye opening read. One shopper captured the sad reality of what we have mostly come to believe:
“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family” speaking of various products. “It shouldn’t be that way, but in a sense there’s no way around it. Everything ends up with a dollar amount. Even your happiness.”
Is it true? Does it have to be? Have we made the joys in life, including a holiday about gratitude, into a consumer affair?
No. I don’t think we were born to consume. I believe there is a way around it. We begin by redeeming the stolen tagline of a credit card giant, because the things in life that truly matter are indeed “priceless.” But it also requires that we stop kneeling at the wrong altar. God designed you and me to enjoy life through relationship with Him and with those around us. We were born to give…not the stuff that has a dollar sign attached, but of ourselves.
We have to abandon the belief that spending money on ourselves and others equals love, relationship and happiness. The advertisements have sold us a raw deal. And to quote another shopper, “Maybe that’s something I need to look into because, I mean, if these aren’t good deals, then what are we doing then?”