more on consumerism as a religion…
A few days ago I had a workshop, which happened to be at a shopping centre (a “mall” for my American friends). I rarely go into shopping centres, but since I had some time at lunch, I decided to go find coffee beans. As I wondered from one end to the other and back, I was reminded how these shopping centres are temples to the religion of consumerism.
There were several fast food shops, offering little healthy and good. There were even more shops dedicated to hair and make-up, with pictures of air-brushed models…”come and buy this and you will look like this” is the message. Then there were clothing shops, full of cheap clothes made in mass factories by underpaid labourers with no rights. There were two giant supermarkets, the two biggest in Australia that have been in a price war and are driving the farmers to bankruptcy in the process. There were also stores full of cheap stuff to fill your house with – knick knacks, nonsense, plastic stuff, etc. Clearly, I was unimpressed.
In reaction to all this, when I got home that night I looked up some hand-made goods. I discovered Etsy (which I have heard of previously). I bought a couple of small things online. Since then I have been considering this: Is shopping online just an alternative place of worship if your religion remains consumerism? I mean, its all very well for me to throw my hands up in horror at the shopping centre, but am I not still worshipping consumerism if I buy online instead?
Which leads me to conclude that simplicity is about choosing to live with less, not just about where you shop or the “vibe” of the place you spend your money. In order to challenge consumerism, I have to choose simplicity. There lies the challenge, not to switch where I spend but to switch whether I spend.