What’s missing in your life right now? Is it easy for you to name two or three things? Ok, how about this? What part of your life couldn’t be better? I hope that question is just as easy for you to answer as the first one. Sadly, that isn’t the case for many people these days. The entire mindset, at least in America, is focused on what’s wrong. Watch, or listen, to the news if you dare. What’s the ratio of bad news to good? Probably 90/10 if you’re lucky. We are constantly pounded with a drumbeat of what’s wrong, what’s wrong, what’s wrong. No wonder depression is at an all time high. First of all, let me say that news is a product. It is designed to sell, not inform. Someone ran the numbers and found that bad news sells(probably out of fear, but that’s a subject for another post). That’s what decides what news gets put on every evening. Next time, pay attention to the commercials and see what they’re really selling.
If you are an American and you are depressed, sad, or worried, what’s a good way to make yourself feel better? How about spending some money? You could go out to eat (my personal favorite), go to a movie, or maybe just buy yourself some new clothes or a new electronic gadget of some kind. My friends, this is what makes the consumer world go ’round.
Is not ALL advertising essentially geared toward making you dissatisfied with something, even if it’s just your brand of toothpaste? Yes, it is. Dissatisfied with your job? Take a vacation, preferably one that requires a plane ticket or a big boat. Dissatisfied with your car? Hell yes! Well, then, go get one of these new models that will make you sexier and 10 years younger. How about drugs? Remember when your doctor got to do his/her own homework on what to prescribe? Now the pharmaceutical companies market directly to the consumer so you can tell your doctor what medicine you need. Who needs a medical degree?
What about the whole cosmetics industry that’s geared toward making women feel like less than they are if they don’t cover themselves in all the latest goop? Ladies, you are already beautiful! It would take time, but we could wean ourselves of all this useless junk. It would take accepting people the way they are, not measured by someone else’s standard.
This one’s a little harder, because it gets into our relationships. We are totally conditioned to want the “ideal” in everyone else. Think of it – for men, we have the porn industry, where all the women are beautiful all the time and willing to do anything, they don’t nag you about taking out the trash, and they have perfect bodies no matter how you define “perfect”. For women, we have soap operas and romance novels, where all the men are handsome, dashing and romantic. They never have bad breath, and they never do, or say, the wrong thing unless it leads to an even more romantic reconciliation. Is it any wonder so many people are unhappy? How can any real flesh and blood human being live up to these standards?
The truth is, if everyone suddenly decided to be content with what they have, our economy would tank even worse than it’s already doing. The whole system is based on buying more and more and more stuff. Isn’t it time to stop? What if you didn’t buy those new shoes or that new car? Would your life really be different? No. Because here’s the deal – as soon as you buy “whatever”, the marketing system immediately sets out to make you dissatisfied with it so you’ll buy something else. It’s an endless cycle, a treadmill that takes conscious effort to get off of.
I could go on, but I’m getting tired and you get my point anyway. Why can’t we all learn to be content with what God has given us? Wouldn’t that be great?
Ok, I can’t make stuff like this up. While I was typing this post, I got an e-mail that said “Does your church have a book store?”
Next time – Christian Consumerism, Money Changers in the Temple. Stay tuned.