Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. — William Morris (as seen on De Doc)
It is without a doubt that our society today is a consumer-driven society based largely on credit.
This is in itself a fact worth bemoaning, as we are, as a whole, borrowing against ourselves into a bleak future. If an individual were only hurting himself I would say “leave him to the dogs,” as I usually say, but it is worth considering that we as a society can not stand to witness the suffering of others. The reaction, of course, is almost an oxymoron in and of itself. We ignore vagrants while we send our used clothing to goodwill. The ultimate oxymoron, of course, is that we indiscriminately protect the weakest in our society no matter whether they have wrought their pathetic fates unto themselves or not.
Our consumer culture is not the problem. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t even the problem. Credit cards themselves aren’t even the problem. The fact that there is so much credit card debt isn’t even the root of the problem, it is merely a symptom. The problem is an even bigger one: the concept of responsibility is lost on so many among us.
The quote with which I introduced this post is a telling one for me. So little of what I own is meaningless, and nothing I buy is meaningless at the point of purchase. And when something I own loses personal value, I find someone else who might gain value from it. And that for me is the whole idea behind the “comsumerism” portion of this site’s tagline. It isn’t hogwild purchasing and “blinging out” on the newest toy. It’s about gaining personal enrichment from what one buys, and always within the limits of one’s means. That is the only consumerism I believe in.
I was never what you would call “poor,” and while my education and living expenses through college were handed to me, I have gone through my own period of personal hardship. It is with these circumstances that I treat my personal purchases, and my wealth in general. I am not one of much money, but I am a wealthy man.
The massive paradigm shift that is directed towards personal and social responsibility will happen—if it ever does—long after an economic problem on a widespread level happens as a result of all the borrowing around us. There are days when I wish I could impart even some part of how I see the world (beyond writing on here) unto others, but in the wisest words of my stepdad: The experience of experience is intransferrable.
The only question I would like to ask of you, dear friends: without rationalizing at all, do the things you own have worth and meaning? Or are you without meaning without the things you own?