The Simple Life

Now that the iPhone has been chosen by Time magazine as the best invention of the year, expect more pressure to own this or something similar, which competes as the latest, coolest product of human ingenuity. Ads already bombard us daily with enticements to buy the latest, neatest, coolest gadgets. We can certainly expect much more this Christmas season. 

Ads also allure us to go out to that place where the family will have endless fun and unbelievable bonding while eating burgers and fries (or fried chicken!). But of course that’s so pedestrian. “In” people hang out at Starbucks or Figaro’s or UCC, or wherever else they sell overpriced coffee with fancy names. “In” people will pay four to five times the amount for coffee which they can get elsewhere, to be seen at these places—and thereby impress the officemates they detest.

And even in the Philippines, where unemployment is 7.8 % and the official average family income is 3,440 US dollars per year, there are TV shows dedicated to showing viewers how to enjoy “the good life”, with guides to spas and reviews of various products for pampering oneself. 

But for now, the gotta-have-it status symbol is probably the iPhone, which is still not supposed to be sold nor usable in the Philippines. But, hey, hacking it (and not destroying it in the process) just adds to the status of owning it. But for those who really want to flaunt that they have “arrived”, the thing to own is the Hummer, which should be usable in about 1/10 of 1/10th percent of Metro Manila’s wide and traffic-free (NOT!) roads*.

The cost of four to five posings at Starbucks can feed an orphan or homeless child for a month. Here’s something to think about: what if we were content to hang out at places with less status, or to buy the cellphone model which may not have all the latest bells and whistles, but is enough to meet our needs?

This is not to say that people don’t really need the top-of-the-line cellphone models or the iPhone. I agree that, depending on the situation, job, context, etc., there are people who would really benefit from such advanced technology and where the benefits and actual usage of features would justify the cost. But what if, as a general rule, we refuse the temptation to buy much more than we really need and instead consistently, deliberately settle for what is best suited to our actual needs and context—and then we give the difference to a favorite charity, church, ministry, school, foundation, etc.? What if Filipinos did not buy Hummers or some such vehicles which are so obscene in the context of the grinding poverty of the majority of their countrymen?

Maybe less people would be hungry, homeless, or suicidally or homicidally desperate, if only those who already have more than enough would say, “Yes, we have enough”.

Here’s a “radical” “omg” idea. How about abstaining from purchases of new gadgets or clothes, or going to the movies or eating out, for a month? Challenge—can we do it for two months? For three months? Six months? For ONE YEAR??? (Wow, omg!) The money we don’t spend we can then share with the less financially blessed. What do you think will happen?

Here’s an excellent, excellent post on giving LESS a chance…
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/10/living_with_les.html

I suspect that this type of fasting—from consumerism—would be very good for the soul. Indeed, simple is beautiful!

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(*From my surfings, I gather that, aside from the iPhone, the current obsession in the West among those who love to keep up with the Joneses is high-definition TV. Wait til that becomes available here 😉 .)
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Related posts:

What Would Jesus Buy?

This is OBSCENE!

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2 Responses

  1. Read this and weep:
    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/ 68514/Malacañ ang-household- bills-P24- B-tab-on- taxpayers- money-in- 2006

    Note that one of the bills has to do with cell phone charges.

    Someone said, “We are told to live within our means. How about living below your means?”

  2. Something happened withe link 😦 here it is again

    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/68514/Malacañang-household- bills-P24-B-tab-on-taxpayers-money-in-2006

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