#rethinkmaterialism — Consumerism or fulfilling your purpose in life, that is the question

Gary Reusche, a long term #ebbfmember , author of ebbf’s “Consultative Decision Making” decided to share with the global ebbf community this article exploring the way consumerism has come to the forefront of our culture and how to open our minds, to look for and reach, more purposeful lives and structures.

The article is widens our exploration of the theme of ebbf’s annual conference dedicated to Rethinking Materialism.

MORE FROM GARY REUSCHE IN HIS NEW READING REALITY VIDEO CHANNEL ( a new video will be uploaded there every week )

“Culture is a word for people’s ‘way of life’, meaning the way groups do things.

Culture is constructed by collective thought.

In 1955 American economist Victor Lebow wrote the article, “Price Competition”. Some call this the consumer version of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

Victor Lebow lays out a battle plan for a materialistic “crusade” in military-religious terms. This and other documents from the mid-20th century reveal consumerism was encouraged and engineered by the business community.

Advertising was the main instrument to create consumerism as a way of life.

But what kind of life does consumerism offer?

  • It is a way of life that can never be satisfied — the need for more is endless.
  • Consumerism made the buying and use of goods into a kind of ritual, a significance that goes beyond the mere purchase of goods;
  • The culture of consumerism seems to replace spiritual aspirations;
  • With consumerism, aspirations and individuality are expressed in terms of what a person wears, drives, eats — not whether or not he or she is a good person, contributing positively to social development.
  • Consumerism is successful with advertisements that constantly push us to eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive, consumption.

Few will disagree that the last 70 years was a complete success for the materialist crusade.

We now see two dominant features of contemporary culture — perpetual growth and consumerism.

These ideas are not natural outcomes of civilization, they are a recent part of a constructed culture

Our culture seems natural, yet it was deliberately constructed.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, a Canadian political scientist, wrote that “Consumerism helps ….us against the emptiness and dread of a materialistic life.”

“A vicious circle of consumption substitutes for a spiritual life,” he sadly comments.

The Bahá’í community challenges the common assumption that human beings are slaves to self-interest and consumerism. “The culture of consumerism … has tended to reduce human beings to competitive, insatiable consumers of goods,…..and to objects of manipulation by the market.”

Alternatives to consumerism exist. Oshua Becker, author of the book: “The More of Less”, has proposed ideas to live more, by owning less.

Becker writes, “It is time to rethink our spending habits, rediscover thoughtfulness and intentionality in our purchases, and remind ourselves that happiness is not on sale at the department store. Buying more is not the solution. We were made for greater pursuits than material possessions. And our lives should reflect that truth.”

Some ways to change habits of consumerism include:

  • Stop and re-evaluate. Look at the life you have created. Are you finding the time, money, and energy for the things that matter most?
  • Stop copying other people. Just because your neighbors, classmates, and friends are chasing a certain style of life does not mean you need to as well.
  • Look deep into your motivations. Advertisers play on our motivations by appealing to our desires in subtle ways.
  • Purchase only what you need to more effectively accomplish your unique role in this world — everything else is only a distraction.

“The faculties needed to construct a more just and sustainable social order — moderation, justice, love, reason, sacrifice and service to the common good — have too often been dismissed as naive ideals.

Yet, it is these and related qualities that must be harnessed. …”


And you are welcome to come and join a further exploration of the topic at ebbf’s annual conference MORE INFO HERE.

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baha’i-inspired global learning community, accompanying individuals and groups, to transform business + economy contributing to a prosperous civilization

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