Reports about the just-ended Christmas shopping season have ranged from poor to downright dismal. Seems Americans failed to perform their patriotic duty.
What does shopping have to do with patriotism? You may recall during the last Presidential debate Barack Obama hearkened to the day after 9/11 attacks, when President Bush promised to avenge the heinous acts. Then the President issued a curious exhortation, admonishing all Americans not to stop shopping.
What a revelatory statement! While on one hand offering assurance that it was safe to go out in public, he also was acknowledging our economy’s hopeless entanglement with consumerism and materialism. Essentially he was admitting if most Americans – for whatever reason – suddenly decided they didn't have to buy the latest and the greatest, the economy would suffer greatly. (So I was a bit surprised that as the Christmas season began, the President didn’t go on national TV to remind us again about the importance of shopping; especially given current economic woes.)
The Bible warns against greed and covetousness, even citing them in the Ten Commandments. I believe these admonitions are there for good reason. It’s hard to put others first when we are busy “looking out for No. 1.” Unfortunately, these vices have undergirded our so-called "Christian nation," especially since World War II. Greed and the lust for "stuff" have become essential to the fabric of our national lifestyle.
Years ago, I asked an old friend how he and his family were doing. I will never forget his reply. He said, "We have a lot of wants - but we don't have any needs." Consumerism, unfortunately, blurs the lines between wants and needs. The materialism treadmill apparently never stops turning. Maybe the slowed economy will enable (if not force) many of us to get off and take a much-needed rest