I recall the words of a song, “Life was simple then. It will never come again…” Our lives are becoming increasingly more complicated and stressful and we have ourselves to blame, for we are getting addicted to material goods. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” said Mahatma Gandhi. These words come to mind as we are faced with severe climatic changes due to global warming brought in by our obsession with ‘more’.
The Industrial Revolution in Europe (1760-1840) which spread throughout the world with colonialism, was the first of seismic changes which shook the very foundations of society. With technology came economic progress which was good but also a population shift from rural to urban areas. The divide between the rich and the poor widened. Cities became the breeding ground of disease and crime. The entire social fabric of cooperation was jettisoned and replaced by the abrasive fabric of fierce competition. Ambition coupled with individualism is loosening the hold of restraining factors such as the family, and a value system based on the common good. We are obsessed with achievement at the cost of the well-being of others.
Today, with continuous technological changes bringing about mass production of goods and the spread of communication, our lives have benefitted but these changes have also brought social, economic, spiritual and ecological upheavals in their wake which are to our detriment.
The thinking now is, “I am not satisfied with what I have. I want more!” A better mobile phone, a faster computer, more clothes, designer shoes and bags, expensive holidays… the list is endless. As our increasing desires are fulfilled, our expectations likewise increase. Advertisements and the media are fooling us into believing that our desires are our needs. Some are ready to rob and even kill their own friends in order to get more money to spend on material goods and on drugs.
Easy loans which make easy money for lending institutions give us a feeling that we can live beyond our means provided our greed for consumer goods is satisfied immediately. We temporarily forget the stress we have to go through to repay our debt in monthly installments.
One such example is that of parents who have less time for their children because they are busy making money to buy a bigger house and a bigger car which they have been brainwashed into believing are needed for their survival. The pervasive culture of MORE translates into our gnawing into and destroying the very roots of our existence — our trees, our reserves of oil, our clean rivers and seas, our earth.
We have been sold the illusion that we can consume without restraint. But that is not really so. Earth’s resources, which have taken centuries to accumulate, are not infinite. Secondly, they are not ours to deplete, for they have been provided by a great and munificent God and we are trustees of His bounty. They are there for us to enjoy and use — not misuse.