It can seem, in the affluent parts of our globe, that to buy is our fortune. It could also be said that, if buying is good, more buying is better.
Of course, we’re in the middle of an economic crisis and some folks might think we need moderation in interaction with the human-created marketplace—that we not treat it as some magically powerful entity that must be worshiped with human sacrifice.
I’ll get back to that human sacrifice idea in a bit…
Today on SoulPancake a discussion was started called, Are we completely obsessed with material possessions? Do they mean anything?. Here’s a representative sample of the comments:
“An iPhone to match your sneakers? Sneakers to match your vest?”
“I love clothes and dinners out with friends, and new shiny things but understand the completely vapid nature of these things.”
“They only mean something if you let it mean something. If it makes you happy then buy it.”
“Honestly, if you have the CASH to buy this stuff up front, go right ahead.”
“Few people lie on their death bed and talk about that car they should have bought or that purse that they were so close to buying”
“As someone below pointed out it does have a huge impact on making the world as we know it go round”
“…yes we are obsessed, and its not a good thing. And yes, these things are important but shouldn’t be occupying our thoughts and efforts to the extent at which it is.”
” Its all one big contest and a race to the finish line. Its a shame most people don’t stop and look around them more often.”
I was happy to see, at least, a range of responses in the normally affluent participants on the site.
I was very sad about a few of them: “If it makes you happy then buy it.”, “Honestly, if you have the CASH to buy this stuff up front, go right ahead.”
Here’s where the idea of materialism brings up the idea of human sacrifice.
Who suffers for the extraction of the raw materials needed to make all the fanciful things people buy?
Who receives no help in their daily lives because they happen to live where the marketeers won’t put their markets?
Who sweats away their days making the toys of the affluent?
Who can any longer ignore that We are One Human Family and what hurts one hurts all ?
“Whether as world-view or simple appetite, materialism’s effect is to leach out of human motivation—and even interest—the spiritual impulses that distinguish the rational soul. ‘For self-love,’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said, ‘is kneaded into the very clay of man, and it is not possible that, without any hope of a substantial reward, he should neglect his own present material good.’ In the absence of conviction about the spiritual nature of reality and the fulfilment it alone offers, it is not surprising to find at the very heart of the current crisis of civilization a cult of individualism that increasingly admits of no restraint and that elevates acquisition and personal advancement to the status of major cultural values. The resulting atomization of society has marked a new stage in the process of disintegration about which the writings of Shoghí Effendí speak so urgently.
“To accept willingly the rupture of one after another strand of the moral fabric that guides and disciplines individual life in any social system, is a self-defeating approach to reality. If leaders of thought were to be candid in their assessment of the evidence readily available, it is here that one would find the root cause of such apparently unrelated problems as the pollution of the environment, economic dislocation, ethnic violence, spreading public apathy, the massive increase in crime, and epidemics that ravage whole populations. However important the application of legal, sociological or technological expertise to such issues undoubtedly is, it would be unrealistic to imagine that efforts of this kind will produce any significant recovery without a fundamental change of moral consciousness and behaviour.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 90
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