Obsession with Material Things?

materialismIt 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.

“Huh?”

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 ?

Spiritual Quote:

“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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Big Green Purse ~ A Book & A Crusade

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What realizes and promotes the fact that 85 cents of every dollar spent in the marketplace is spent by a woman and that big business responds faster to consumer demand than any other market force?

Answer:

Grist, an environmental journalism site, has a compelling article on the book Big Green Purse and its author, Diane MacEachern, a longtime conservationist.

Just a few Q&As from the riveting interview:

question There’s this notion out there that you can save the world by buying all this stuff — as long as it’s green.

answer In every single chapter, the very first suggestion is buy less, consume less, reduce — clearly we have to cut back on the total amount of stuff that’s being produced. But I do think that being a conscious consumer is a very powerful tool, because consumer dollars are the lifeblood of manufacturers. So we can either use them to tell manufacturers what to make or we can just continue to let manufacturers tell us what to buy.

question Do you feel like environmentalists have been too quick to dismiss shopping as a route to change?

answer I think that the power of green consumerism has not been harnessed by the environmental movement. You’ve got all kinds of companies wanting to be green and natural and eco-friendly, and you’ve got the environmental movement saying, “Whatever you do, don’t buy anything.” … The light bulbs are a perfect example … people have to change their light bulbs anyway, so why not buy the option that makes the most sense? If you have people sit in the dark, that’s literally a turn-off.

question Does your book address the challenges of buying green on a budget?

answer First of all, there’s so much cushion in people’s budget that they don’t realize. People will say to me, “I can’t buy organic; it’s too expensive,” and then I look in their refrigerator and it’s full of bottled water. They may be spending $10 to $15 a week on bottled water, but they don’t want to spend $6 for a gallon of organic milk.

question How can the environmental movement change its message to be more effective?
answer I do think some groups are doing a pretty good job in starting to provide information … but now I think the next step is to start getting the message out to people who aren’t necessarily in the environmental community. We don’t need to talk to other environmentalists; we need to talk to garden clubs and women’s clubs and church groups and all these people who are not as fully aware of what the opportunity is.

What would be great is if Safeway would put an environmental spokesperson in the store. “On Saturday, as you’re coming through the store, there’s going to be these five people wearing green vests, and if you have any questions about green shopping, you can ask them.” Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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