27 April 2014

Consumerism Opposing Spirituality (and Ultimate Well-Being)

Consumerism and spirituality
Consumerism, Wikipedia's definition does it justice: 'Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts'. Sorry, one more, capitalism: 'an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy'. Phew, glad we cleared that up. Doesn't feel good though does it? Especially when it encompasses our lives.

The acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts then, is of course driven by making profits. This stands to reason and keeps a lot of people employed. But if making profits are blinding us from our spiritual understanding, destroying our natural world and impeding the overall progress of humanity, then the profiteers should not be the ones in control. They have control through psychological expertise, delivered through all forms mass of media, especially effective at creating, wants, needs, desires and aspirational ways of living.

Consumerism is a religion and the shopping mall is the church. We all love a shopping spree and need new stuff now and then sure, but the practice of total materialism has been normalised. In fact, you are strange if not aspiring for more things, better titles, popularity and a pleasing look. Individuals' status is evaluated superficially by what 'stuff' they have. This self serving behavior creates isolation. As sociable as the consumer may be, the bottom line is to buy more stuff to make yourself happy. No body cares about the next guy, unless you are buying a gift to show them you care of course.

The system is built this way. People need jobs, paid for by the consumers, but to compete, some tight marketing campaigns must be tailored to create convincing needs. In turn, the global population (the portion fortunate enough to be consumers and not struggling in poverty) become increasingly narcissistic, materialistic, self serving and well – empty.

Psychologist Tim Kasser, PhD (Apa.org,Tori DeAngelis, 2004) found during his research that when people 'organize their lives around extrinsic goals such as product acquisition, they report greater unhappiness in relationships, poorer moods and more psychological problems.' So, having more material goods doesn't make you happy. If you've ever bought a new item of clothing, loved it for a day only to find it dissatisfying soon after, then you'll understand.

While consumerism is pulled over our eyes, we ignore our spiritual potential. The things that really matter are ignored in favour of giving to the self. Firstly, love for others is often withheld due to materialistic distractions, the vibration of love being essential for the spirit's progression. Secondly, we disconnect from the Earth. How much fuel does it take to ship containers of products from China for example? Fly fruit from abroad? How much natural resources are we willing to use up to feed consumerism, before we realise there's nothing left for following generations? The earth has finite resources and consumerism is using them up fast. Thirdly, being too busy with materialism leaves no time for spiritual contemplation and progression and service to others.

Money is required to survive, so we need consumerism to pay wages. But trapped in a cycle with little regard for social, spiritual and community well-being – a great overhaul is needed  before it's too late.    

Consumerism Opposing Spirituality (and Ultimate Well-Being) - Video