?“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
Then your poverty will come as a robber,
And your want like an armed man.
You and I, we’re addicted to consumption. Not to owning things so much, but to the endorphin rush of desiring things. The structure of desire is such that you find excitement in gazing longingly at the item, imagining your life once you buy it, fantasizing about how wonderful owning it will make you feel, until the actual purchase and enjoyment of the item becomes secondary to the pre-purchase eroticism. Every bookstore is an erotic bookstore, and the books are the erotic objects that drive your satisfaction. This intense longing derives from us experiencing a constant bombardment of images that key us up to ache for new possessions.
This bombardment leads us to associate emotions and personality characteristics with items. Things come to define who you are: You wear Abercrombie and you must be wealthy, think, and sexy (or seeking those things). You drive a Prius and you become environmentalist, tree-hugging, frugal. You listen to country, you become a cowboy. Especially in this hypermodern society where people focus on their individuality, the older sense of rootedness — belonging in a place, among certain people, with certain responsibilities and behaviors — vanishes. Products and the ideals they represent replace the self-as-defined-by-relationships. They help you locate yourself, identify who you are in relation to others, and ascertain the types of relationships you should maintain with other people.
We cannot live as whole people while we derive pleasure from desiring an endless parade of quickly-discarded, shoddily-built products and self-definition from the products with which we decorate ourselves. Like a drug rush, the euphoria of coveting and purchasing quickly fades, and the addiction soon clamors again. Like a grain of sand before the oncoming tide, the self built on the basis of product image washes away, only to require rebuilding. In short, by building life as we do now, we consume endlessly and unsustainably but never feel satisfied because meaningless products form the basis for self-evaluation and self-worth. To live fully, realize:
1. There is wealth beyond money.
2. Relationships are not disposable.
3. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Imagine a world where we lived simply and derived joy from relationships instead of things. Think on these things, and ask yourself: What is my personal relationship to consumption? What do you ache to consume, and does it fulfill you when you buy it?
1. Robin in Sustainable Planet, 91
2. Pipher in Sustainable Planet, 136
3. Luke 12:22 – 24