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  • Children of Eden written by Joey Graceffa
    By: Destiny Breniser This book was published in 2016 with its genre being Young Adult,  Dystopian, and Apocalyptic. This story is about Rowan, who is a second-born child living in a city where her entire existence is illegal. She longs for the day when she can leave her family’s house and live without fear.  She […]
  • An Unwanted Guest written by Shari Lapena
    By: Destiny Breniser A classic whodunnit that keeps you guessing till the very end. With twelve characters to read varying points of view from, there is always something happening to leave you wondering what is going on.  This book was published in 2018 with its genre being a mystery thriller. The story starts with Reily […]

What it really means to have all this ‘stuff’

January in Bowling Green means – aside from freak weather patterns – the emergence of New Year’s resolutions, normally in direct response to Christmas glut. Expect to hear from your fellow classmates, your favorite news sources and maybe even your professors the story of American corporate manipulation and inexcusable greed. They will then vow to really focus on what matters in 2008, to not be so materialistic, maybe even to find inner peace or harmony with the universe.

Now these are all very meaningful goals, and I personally find that I desire fewer and fewer gizmos each holiday season. Heck, the “big gifts” I asked for this Christmas were a floor lamp and dress shoes. Of course I am sure any good postmodernist would tell me I am still a materialist who requires possession of things to sustain my illusion of happiness, et cetera and so on.

Right, well, here’s the twist: In the face of all those resolving to live a simpler life, let me simply say, I love materialism. Heck, I even love corporate manipulation in a strange, prodigal-son manner. And if you’re still waiting for a punch line, you might want to skip to cartoons.

Before I explain my apparently unique love for American materialism, I should probably throw in a disclaimer. I do believe Christmas is and should remain primarily a religious and family-oriented event, and likewise for any other religious celebration. But that is a matter for individuals and families, so please stop telling Wal-Mart that selling two-for-one-dollar luminaries and menageries is somehow a horrible and manipulative process.

Now then, why do I love materialism? Throughout our history we have aspired to reach a level of universal affluence. We wanted to create a society in which all could have a chance to build a life. And we do not appreciate how far we have come.

I understand that there are poor individuals in America. Some face starvation, exposure to the elements, disabilities and conditions that I could scarcely imagine.

Yet concern for these people is a luxury brought about by the fact that most of our society will never, in any real sense, face these problems. I picked up on a recent poll that stated almost 25 percent of our country has, at one point, worried about homelessness, and almost 50 percent about severe poverty or bankruptcy.

Turn that around for a moment. When in history has 75 percent of a population been not able to acquire housing and necessities, but also have the peace of mind to know that such necessities will remain available?

Now, we can debate the merits of European socialism versus American not-quite-capitalism, and I am sure we could find faults with both.

But here is the gist of it all. A few years back I read a report stating there were more active cars (based on license tags, I believe) than licensed drivers. We continue to worry about our disposable society in which even our most basic utensils can be purchased in Styrofoam and plastic, then discarded after a single use. The land we drive through is stripped of its natural form and supplanted with crops, billboards and stores.

I challenge everyone, liberal and conservative alike, to take a moment and stop considering the waste. For one minute, stop thinking of the impending/ongoing destruction of our environment, stop fretting over the commercialization of our family gatherings and just look around.

There is no America without materialism. This is not a reiteration of the argument that your purchases somehow stimulate the economy and help everyone – although that bears thinking about. This is a plea to common sense. We want an affluent society, and what is more indicative of affluence than home and transportation? Living quarters for all demographics have expanded dramatically, both in size and quality, and have improved dramatically over the years.

There are always setbacks – housing markets collapse, and so on. But on a whole, we are reaching a goal considered a fantasy only a generation ago. Comparing our per capita consumption to Europe borders on a religious experience for a good capitalist. We possess more land and more advanced products – televisions, refrigerators, cars – per capita than anywhere else on Earth.

So yes, we have problems with the environment, and we have inequalities in our communities. However, I beg that you not overlook the achievement of the American economy. Before you proceed to discard your material baggage, understand that it is not simply the accumulation of worthless junk. It is the deliverance of a promise made by every generation before you: the promise of a better life. And if our generation cannot understand scarcity and thereby truly appreciate affluence, then we are poor inheritors of that dream.

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