Read this week's message from Father Don
I have been a reading a book about the impact of consumerism on the environment and on our society.
“The day the world stops shopping” points out that human beings have always been consumers but that the scale of consumption has increased exponentially since World War II. Since then, a consumer society has emerged in which “earning and spending” have become the dominant activities. Today people work harder and longer hours than ever before, so they can have more money to spend on the things and services required to maintain “a high standard of living.”
The statistics on consumer spending are mind-boggling. American spend $250 billion annually on digital gadgets, $140 billion on personal care products, and $60 billion on household appliances. Our spending habits have become the driving force behind the global economy.
About 50 years ago, as part of a growing concern about the environmental impact of consumerism, someone invented the slogan “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Unfortunately, few people paid attention. Consumer spending and its environmental impact continued to grow unabated. Indeed, politicians began to urge citizens to go out spend more. Shopping was presented as the proper behaviour of the responsible citizen.
How has consumerism impacted our lives? Our use of time has changed: people are so busy earning and spending that they have less time available for their family and friends. Our ability to make personal decisions has been compromised, because the influence of advertising and the pressure to fit in with social expectations has become so strong, e.g. “all my friends drive a Tesla.”
For Christians there is an additional concern: the pursuit of money and the accumulation of possessions does not fit well with Jesus’ teaching. Jesus taught his disciples to stop worrying about “what you are going to eat and wear,” to avoid attachment to money and possessions, and to live not for this world but for the life of the spirit.
Jesus’ message for us is clear: maintain a simple lifestyle, so you have time for those you love and for quiet prayer, so you learn to value people over things, and so you can provide good example to those who are trapped in the unhealthy patterns of consumerism.
Best wishes Father Don