Consumerism – An Age-Old Problem

Consumerism has been around for many years, from the first department store that opened in London in 1796, to the eight-floor department store built on a full city block in New York in 1862, to the mega malls we have today.

In the early 1900s, advertising stepped in, and in the 1920s, we were offered our first credit cards.

During World War II, we were taught, briefly, to be frugal. And when that was over, we were told to buy and consume. Since then, we haven’t stopped.

People that lived before us warned about a society of over-consumption, but we have failed to listen.

Confucius once said, “The Master said, ‘A true gentleman is one who has set his heart upon the Way. A fellow who is ashamed merely of shabby clothing or modest meals is not even worth conversing with.’ ”

Ghandi told us, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

And E.B. White stated, “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

My favorite quote is the following, “I think the enemy is here before us…I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed… I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land.” –Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t go Home Again, 1949

I think Wolfe is right, the enemy lives among us. He has destroyed our planet, taken our money, turned us into green-eyed monsters. He is sucking the life out of every creature.

Maybe it’s time we listen to the wise words of those who walked before us. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Consumerism won’t go away, after all, we need certain things to survive. But this excessive, compulsive shopping is getting out of hand. It’s time to stop, let go of what we don’t need, and cling to what we do. When we stop the insane spending, the constant consuming, we will find benefits we never knew existed. We will find benefits of a life with less. Like these:

1. Time with family.
2. Time for ourselves.
3. Time to volunteer.
4. Less time cleaning.
5. Less time organizing.
6. Less money spent.
7. More money for vacation.
8. More money for retirement.

Let’s use consumerism for what it was intended – to meet our needs. Let’s cut the shopping, and stop the enemy, before he stops us.

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