November 2018: Thought For The Month

October 31 2018

I shop, therefore I am?

For many months now, the main item on almost every news programme has been the looming implications of Brexit. Exactly what the outcome will be for us as a nation and Europe as a whole remains uncertain. However, as divided as we are over the details, there is one thing that unites everyone involved: Debt. 

Every country involved has massive debts as a result of government over-spending and these debts threaten the economic stability of the whole Euro zone. The solution, we are told, is a combination of high interest loans and austerity measures which will impact many people. 

In Europe we live in a consumer society. Consumerism is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. We are encouraged to buy things we don’t really need with money we haven’t really got. This is in contrast to the millions of people around in the world who survive on less than £1 a day. For them life is about survival. They have no extras and are grateful if they have one basic meal a day. The child mortality rate is high and life expectancy low.

In the Western world, consumerism has developed over the past 60 years as we have enjoyed an increasing standard of living. We judge ourselves and others in terms of how much money we have and the designer goods we own. The mantra of consumerism is “I shop, therefore I am”.  The range of goods available in our supermarkets is an attempt to meet the growing demands of consumers for greater choice, but now we are being brought back to reality and the impact on our societies will be great.

Solomon was a great king who was renowned for his wisdom and his wealth. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which is in the Bible, and reflected on the shallowness of life if we live simply for money or pleasure. He recognised the ultimate meaninglessness of life if we live for material things and forget the living God. 

His book is a message for our times. He wrote, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. Naked we come from our mother’s womb, and as we come, so we depart. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, I find no pleasure in them.”