I’ve just got back from a trip to our local tip and the Salvation Army charity shop where I have offloaded what seems like a ton of our unwanted stuff. Judi and I (to be honest mostly Judi) are in the throes of clearing out the accumulated stuff in our house in preparation for renting it out while we are in Kenya. It has amazed me how much stuff we have managed to pile up in the house since the last time we blitzed the place twelve years ago when we first went to Kenya.
The problem with the stuff in your house is that it hides everywhere - under beds, in cupboards and corners, sheds and attics. It also seems to reproduce itself. I wouldn't really describe Judi and I as mass consumers to any great extent so it is alarming to see how much there is still left to clear out. Perhaps the two of us aren't doing enough to stimulate the economy by not buying a lot of stuff. Tony Campolo (an American speaker I referenced in a previous post) talks about societies like the US and UK where we all have a lot of stuff. In a very funny talk he says “Do you understand that it is your patriotic responsibility to buy stuff.” He has a point. Just imagine what would happen to all the people who have jobs making stuff if people weren't buying it.
Difficult as it is I would really like to work on a different way of doing things - i.e. NOT buying stuff. I know that this will be a big challenge. Stuff is enticing. Stuff convinces you that you can’t do without it. I am, at this moment, being seduced by the new Tesco hudl 2 tablet every time I walk into the computer section of our local branch of Tesco. The demonstration models on the display cry out “Buy one of us!”. How could you resist the promotional advertising - “Souped-up and super-sized, the hudl 2 is primed to entertain and has oodles of room for apps and downloads. Its choice of 8 fab colours totally rocks too!” I have, to my shame, taken the guided tour on the Internet advert. It is hard to resist. But I am going to try.
How about a different strap line on patriotic duty. It is our patriotic duty to humanity not to buy any more unnecessary stuff because the planet can’t take it any more. J Matthew Sleet, MD has written a great book called Serve God Save the Planet. The endorsement on the cover says “Serve God Save the Planet is the best single book I've found to help people of faith learn practical ways to fulfill our call to be stewards and caretakers of God’s beautiful creation." I’m grateful to Judi for taking such a tough line on what we chuck out and recycle - painful as it is to bid farewell to cherished old books, videos and cassette tapes. We can’t take our stuff with us, we don't need most of it, its in the way and its got to go!. I think I’ll go out and hug a tree to relieve the pressure.