Chasing the Wind

The new iphone goes on sale today and Apple is expected to sell 10 million this weekend. This will be the largest consumer electronics debut in history. One young buyer is quoted as saying, “There is nothing cooler than being the first. Now I am going to go home and unpack it slowly and with joy — this is going to be better than sex.” So, consumerism is alive and well. For many families, however, it will be another thing to try to say no to.

We are inundated daily with powerful & creative messages aimed at convincing us to spend.

It turns out that the world spent $5.3 billion on mobile ads (from display, to search, to messaging) overall in 2011, and it turns out that Asia is laying out the most capital.

Restaurants spent $5.875 billion on measured advertising in 2011, up 4.4% from the previous year, according to new data from Kantar Media. Not surprisingly, McDonald’s tops the list with 963 million spent on advertising.

So often the only reason we want something is to impress someone or to get something they have. The result is a me centred view of life. Jesus warned against this when he said, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, and cast away himself?” Luke 9:25 The irony of it is that while we are getting more things we are becoming less of a person. In order to avoid the pressure of consumerism, that’s a good thing to remember.

In Ecclesiastes the author has had personal experience with the limitless pursuit of wealth and in his experience it’s like chasing after the wind.

What can families do in response to this intense consumer pressure? Teaching and practising generosity is a great counter cultural move. Avoiding consumer debt is a must. Explain to children that money is limited and we have choices. Get them involved in the choices. With our kids, we used an allowance in which we matched their flyer route earnings. Discretionary spending such as clothes, movies, and gadgets, was up to them. They wanted expensive running shoes back then, not electronic gadgets like now.

Enjoy what good things you have and be content. More of a good thing is not better. Don’t let temporary things take on any kind of ultimate meaning. The void that we are trying to fill is spiritual and only God can fill it. When we lose ourselves in this culture the way to recover a sense of our true self is to turn back to our true source which is God. And when the wind blows, just take them to the park to fly a kite.