Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Romans 12:2 (MSG)
Better Stuff vs Not Enough – Part 2
Go to PART 1
A few months ago, I was doing some Christmas shopping for my kids. (Batman Lego and Shopkins were high on the list last year.) I found a few things, popped them in my trolley and kept looking. But while looking at all the posters and all the sales and all shelves lined with a ridiculous amount of toys and variety and quality, I began to doubt that I had bought enough.
“Will my kids feel ripped off if I don't buy them more? I should be getting them something bigger, something brighter… something more expensive… or just something more…”
Advertising aims at your vulnerabilities. Its message is that you that don’t have enough and that you would be better off with more; that this particular item will increase your life satisfaction. But how many of you have bought such an item, or piece of clothing, and within a few days or weeks, the shine wears off and you go in search of the next thing? (my hand is up… just so you know).
Shopping isn’t bad. Things aren’t bad. I have things, you have things, we all need things. It’s our value systems that need addressing. I know people that will put themselves into precarious financial situations over Christmas just so they can buy their loved ones the latest, and the biggest and the best. But why? Why do we need these things? Why do we need to keep consuming and consuming to show our love and feel better about ourselves?
Social Media is a wonderful place – we love it. But it's also a place where a lot of unrealistic and ridiculous comparisons are made. It's almost like a game… Whose house is better, writing is better, picture is better, idea is better, selfie is better, more likes, more views, more follows… Social Media has the potential to be an incredible tool for connection and encouragement, but more and more it is becoming the birthplace and incubator of FOMO – fear of missing out. The fear that my life is not enough, pretty enough, rich enough, fun enough, styled enough, hipster enough, chic enough… whatever enough…
And so we consume and conform, consume and conform…
These kinds of stories can be told in any circle or field: Politics, sport, education, arts… comparison, greed and domination are a burden on every sphere of life.
It's this place of playing on our lack and insecurities where all kinds of evil begin to grow. It cultivates a position of “I need more and I don’t care if I have to take from you to get it.” From this place, dictators rise, abusers get hungry, violence brews, deception strategises, and greed revels in its popularity. In this place, we become blinded to the needs of those around us due to our all-consuming wants. Sometimes it's easier to fulfil our wants than open our eyes to real need.
It can be easier (in the moment) to buy my kids affection with expensive toys than to sacrifice work and give them my time. It’s easier to snub my neighbour because we believe different things than to sit down and have an awkward and uncomfortable conversation, to actually listen. It's easier to abuse the person behind the counter than it is to admit that I bought the wrong item, or that I broke it as soon as I got home. It’s easier to fill my time with consuming things for my own pleasure than it is to sacrifice my greed and insecurities so that I can share and reach and have compassion and love…
We need to have inner transformation – a change of mind – about the things that really matter if we want to change the world. Big change starts as small as that.