Understanding Consumerism: from the Mouths of Bumblebees and Blueberries

As I said yesterday, I could have gone with the bee thing and gone on a different route: consumerism. This idea came up with the knowledge that as Americans, we are spending way too much money on honey, giving China millions of dollars. Just on honey. These aren’t hard-and-fast numbers, but it does convey the fact that we consume way too much. Blogging about consumerism makes me think of a book called The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian. It’s basically about a kid who blogs about consumerism, calling his blogs “sermons”, but there are more complexities that I won’t tell you about. It’s a good book, you should read it. But back to consumerism! (By the way, the blueberry part comes at the end, you’ll understand after you read it)

Do you ever look at how much random, useless stuff we have? If you’ve moved recently, you know that when you’re going through your belongings, you look at things and say to yourself, “Why in the world do I have this?” How many birthday gifts do we discard after a couple months because they’re just not that interesting anymore? When we compare our lifestyles to those of people in third world countries, we should be ashamed of how much we have (this is on my mind, because the kids are learning about Haiti at Vacation Bible School this week). I’m not going to lie, I enjoy living like this. I like my smart phone; I like being five minutes away from a Target; I like being able to decorate my room with fun stuff (or rather, let my sister decorate our room with fun stuff). I like that. But sometimes, we take all this just a little bit too far. We take our belongings, our comforts, for granted. We keep wanting more and more and more, and then, nothing satisfies us. Those are the dangers of consumerism, and I confess that I fall short of where I want to be.

I personally think that if people all over the world stopped buying stuff that they really don’t need, we’d be able to make our ginormous economic problem better. I’m no economist, but have you ever noticed that we go into these horrible depressions right after times of big spending? The Roaring Twenties, anyone? Maybe if we hadn’t spent so much during those times, we wouldn’t have crashed the way we did. And maybe, maybe we could understand the concept of sharing. Woah! Big concept right there! It’s not like we haven’t learned that sharing is caring from kindergarten or anything… But yeah, instead of buying stupid, silly things that we don’t need, maybe we could use that money to help people who actually need it. Have a little compassion people. Do you really need the newest iPhone, even though you already have one in perfect working condition? Do you really need that shirt, even though you have ten others in different colors? I didn’t think so.

And the saddest thing about consumerism is that ultimately, it doesn’t improve our lives, it makes them worse. We think that more is better, but then we keep wanting more and more and more, and as I said above, nothing satisfies us at that point. Instead of making us happier, which is what we think these things are going to do, they make us more depressed and steeped in the stuff that doesn’t matter at all. And then we don’t appreciate what we really have. I think this clip from the Veggie Tales Madame Blueberrry movie is just about right. It took me awhile to find the perfect one, but this particular clip has bits from the movie to make a full picture of what I’m trying to say here. Think of it as my thesis statement. Yay for Veggie Tales!

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