How Much is Enough?

We live in a consumer society. We buy everything we see and listen to advertisements that tell us we need the latest gadget, the latest fashions, the newest movies and websites, all of it. And then, of course, we have to have the biggest house to store it all, the best cars and trucks to move it all and the most popular blog to brag about it all.

What purpose does all of it serve? There is a saying: ‘you can’t have everything—where would you put it?’ Funny in a sort of wry way, but it illustrates a point. There comes a time when no matter what, you have to say that it’s too much.

Some of the things we need are a given, such as food, shelter, water, etc. Those are pretty basic. When you get into the needs imposed by societies we live in, the list expands somewhat. Now we need such things as work, transportation, medical care, education, entertainment, technology, communications, information, and a slew of extra stuff our ancestors wouldn’t even recognize.

I wonder how different life would be if we just decided to pick and choose what we actually needed and perhaps only a few of the extras, rather than gobbling up everything the advertisers threw at us like greedy ducks in a pond. What if you just chose a few things, rather than tried to keep up with everything? Would your Facebook page really suffer all that much? Who are you trying to impress, anyway? Does anybody really care if you have the latest android or PS3?

Do you really need the biggest house on the block, or are you just grandstanding? Would it really kill your kids to have to share a room? Your parents and grandparents most likely did it for years. Heck, they probably had only one bathroom for the entire house and they did just fine. They may even have had to learn to actually compromise and think about the rest of the folks they lived with.

While technology has become a necessity, how much is really useful to you and the way you live? Upgrading your phone every six months when something new comes out is wasteful and expensive. So you can’t play ‘Angry Birds’ all afternoon, so what? You can’t think of something better to do with your time? Your computer and the internet are modern necessities, but does that mean that you can do without cable? I don’t even own a television set any more and I haven’t missed it in almost two years.

If chosen wisely, the many advances available to us could result in a lessening of the burden of sheer stuff we have to deal with on a daily basis. The paperless office has been touted for years and might even be a reality some day. Our photos, music, records and entertainment are now stored in a hundredth of the space used by our predecessors.

I buy what I need, and try to limit buying what I want. I’ve had my favorite jeans for years, and still wear them often, despite the change in fashion. No one even blinks at them. I choose the look that I want, not one dictated by some oddly dressed “Designer” whose aim is to be memorable, not tasteful. I once read a statement by the 19th century artist and designer, William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not find both beautiful and useful.”

What terrific advice!

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

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