it seems only fitting that our culture puts a holiday of consumption the day after a holiday of consumption, i mean giving thanks. the day we reserve for giving thanks for those things which we have that we did not earn, like the love of a family or treasured friendships is quickly followed by a day devoted to accumulating more. it’s almost impossible to know now which day we value more. we are, after all, a consumer nation.
this week, in class, we watched a documentary called “What Would Jesus Buy?” it was entertaining but had a very serious message: stop consuming. your overconsumption is costing others. the last “thing” you need is to accumulate more “things.”
it’s just interesting to me that we consider ourselves a “Christian” nation, but then do not consider overconsumption a problem. if we truly desire to have a heart for Christ considered most important, we have to realize the impact our spending has on those around the world. if it is not made in the USA, it is likely made in sweatshop conditions, where 13 year olds are forced to trade their childhood for 14-hour days, 7 days a week.
it is not that i do not struggle with this myself. i, too, lust over the Gap ads that bombard my mailbox and email. about this time last year, tho, i read something that made me think. i had, at the time, a page of suggestions for living more simply. one thing listed was, “do not support anything that promotes the oppression of others.” i was convicted about the clothing i wear, how their production supports people around the world living in squalor because the wages they get paid to make my shirt don’t even allow for them to afford a toothbrush.
so, i made a commitment to not buy any clothing new this year. my original intention was to make them myself, but that proved to be more than i could handle. so i started shopping thrift, which has been eye-opening in so many ways. first of all, i have to make more do with what i have or what i can find. if i don’t find the exact coat or pair of jeans i want, i have to either wait and keep looking or just wear what’s available. also, i have become accutely aware that i am generally “unfashionable” because of this commitment.
still, it has been very satisfying though to know that i was doing something, however small, to keep from perpetuating the cycle.
so, what’s the answer? what would Jesus buy? it’s ok if the response is different for each person, but it still demands a response. practically, you can begin by buying local, putting money back into local economies where people are treated with respect and paid fair wages. it’s not easy and will require sacrifice, but it will give everyone involved the opportunity to participate in something beautiful:
life. to the fullest. just what Christ promised to bring.