Thursday, September 9, 2010

When Consumption Consumes You. Hold the Trinkets!

There are many areas of our children's Ethiopian heritage we hope to embrace, assimilate, and keep alive.  The easy ones will be food, music and dance, love for soccer, and love for family and community.  A not-so-easy one may be language and the hardest by far yet one that I am determined to use as a benchmark for our entire family is that of consumption.  

Here in America, we consume simply to consume.  It is unfortunate that the driving force behind America's prosperity is also the one that tricks, ahem, I mean makes us realize through clever marketing campaigns, appetizing color schemes, and a host of other business strategies, that we need whatever product or service is being sold.  However, in Ethiopia and other developing nations consumption is a matter of necessity.  In all reality, consumption should be that simple.  One is hungry, one finds food or a way to sell something to get food.  However, we have become so rich that as a nation have lost sight of the beauty in that simplicity.    

Deuteronomy 24:21 says, "When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don't glean the vines after they are picked.  Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows."  

It seems that we are gleaning to the edge of our fields and then some.  There are more than enough resources to feed, cloth, and hydrate every person alive.  However, that is not what we do.  For example, 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the 33 percent of the world's population living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent. Americans alone make up only 5% of the world's population yet consume 24% of the world's energy.  Yikes!

It is amazing the amount of stress our "stuff" can cause us.  More stuff, more stress, more worry.  For people like myself who like all of their stuff to live in "homes", it only seems natural to simplify.  But that, we know, is an uphill battle in America where more is better and tomorrow has already outdated today.  Looking around my own house, there is actually very little that gets daily use and I imagine the same holds true for most homes.  Our beds, linens, hygiene items, clothing, and cookware and cleaning items seem to top the list.  After that, what is considered necessity is quite relative. 

As we draw closer to bringing our children home, I pray God helps us to embrace the simple things in life, to learn from our children, and to help them by providing for them yet not letting them lose sight of what is truly important.  I pray that God helps us and our children understand how to live in this world, but not be consumed by this world; that He helps us discern what we truly need versus what is frivolous.

1 comment:

  1. great post. It is hard how adoption has opened our eyes to all that is around us - and yet so many choose not to see that the way we live is not something to be proud of. We in America, and even the American church, often turn into Pharisees in that we give a few pennies and pat ourselves on the back that we have given so much. But yet so many around the world are suffering and we tell ourselves that they must be incurring God's wrath as we are blessed and they are not. Truthfully, it is just Satan at work in America who uses 'stuff' to cloud over our view of God --- they often see Him so much more clearly.