January 18

Reflection

How do we learn about the world, the universe? Our ancestors gathered in caves and listened to the chant of the elders. For our children the cave has been replaced by the television room and the chant of the elders by the advertisement. This is the reality night after night and season after season. Immersed in the religion of consumerism, we refuse to take such comparisons seriously. What we need to confront is the power of the advertiser to present a world view based on dissatisfaction and craving. We rarely think of ads as being based on world views and that is why they are so effective.  It is no great mystery why it is that consumerism has become the dominant world faith on every continent on the planet. The message delivered every day is that humans need to work at jobs to gain money in order to buy things. The ideal human is set in our minds. It is not Jesus or Socrates or Martin Luther King Jr. or Rachel Carson. The ideal people are relaxed and carefree- drinking Pepsi around a pool, unencumbered by thoughts concerning the nature of goodness, undisturbed by the suffering that could be alleviated if humans were committed to justice. Advertisements are where our children are first exposed to cosmology, to a basic view of the world’s meaning, which amounts to a primary religious faith although we never think of it as that.
Adapted from Brian Swimme

Prayer

May I see truth which is the beginning of wisdom.

Action

Take time to think about what is being said above.  How does it affect you?  What about the children in your family? Imagine how young people were brought to maturity in former cultures using their myths and stories. What belief systems are being ingrained in our current young people?  What are some of the effects? What can you do?

Suggested Reading

Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.
Proverbs 15:16 

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Luke 12:15 

While consumption means acquiring and using goods and services to meet one’s needs, consumerism is the particular relationship to consumption in which we seek to meet our emotional and social needs through shopping, and we define and demonstrate our self-worth through the Stuff we own.  And overconsumption is when we take far more resources than we need and than the planet can sustain…. Consumerism is about excess.
Pope Francis

Contemplation is an alternative consciousness that refuses to identify with or feed what are only passing shows. It is the absolute opposite of addiction, consumerism or any egoic consciousness.
Richard Rohr

Advertising tries to stimulate our sensuous desires, converting luxuries into necessities, but it only intensifies man’s inner misery. The business world is bent on creating hungers which its wares never satisfy, and thus it adds to the frustrations and broken minds of our times.
Fulton J. Sheen 

In this state of total consumerism-which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves-all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand.
Wendell Berry

The folly of endless consumerism sends us on a wild goose-chase for happiness through materialism.
Bryant H. McGill

Our culture is a culture of consumerism. How sustainable is that?
Benjamin Bratt

Liberating oneself from the addiction of consumerism and careerism promotes inner peace.
David Shi

If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.
Vicki Robin

Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will. At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.
Chuck Palahniuk

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