Bigger, Better, Faster, Cheaper, and Most of all MORE!
Being flat broke for the last several weeks I have quickly learned the value of a dollar. In the past I have been very guilty of impulse buying and now I always question myself as to if I really need the overpriced can of gourmet whatever at the grocery store or if I REALLY need the 90 dollar sweater at Banana. Most of the time the answer is NO. Everyone needs a little retail therapy now and then though!
When I was a kid my Grandmother would always do her grocery shopping at the A&P every Wednesday. It was like clockwork. My Grandmother was Scot's Irish and held true to the stereotype of being very tight with money and could pinch the proverbial penny until it screamed. She used to take me grocery shopping with her when I was a kid. I remember she would spend $50.00 and would come out with a cart stuffed full of food. In those days things were somewhat cheaper but most of it had to do with her finding a deal. It wasn't unusual to see her snag a whole flat of generic (remember the black and white label stuff) canned goods to keep in the pantry for later use.
I, after enough shopping trips with her, was banned from future trips to the A&P! I used to sneak stuff into the shopping cart without her looking. The five dollar box of cereal, or the overpriced jar of something got slid into the cart and went unnoticed until she got home and read the receipt! She quickly caught on and suddenly my shopping cart embezzlement was quickly halted!
My Grandmother was a product of her generation. She grew up during the Great Depression. Her husband was shipped to Saipan during World War II and was there for several years. She saw the gas shortages during the 70's. She lived during a time where you had to watch every penny. I can remember stories of flour sack dresses and feed sacks used for shoes because she had no money then. I always thought that it was odd that she saved things like used tin foil, or washed out zip lock bags and reused them, or saved plastic forks and knives. I thought how weird...isn't that the point of disposable stuff?
I think that young people now have no idea about what it means to live without excess. Think about it. Even my own generation has lost touch. We live during a time where more is better. Everything is disposable! If it breaks throw it away and buy new. If your DVD, TV, or Microwave break you don't get them repaired, you throw them away and add them to the voracious landfills that are growing larger and larger by the day. Nothing is made to last. Clothes don't last, even though you pay through the nose for anything decent or original looking. Electronics don't last. Your average laptop is obsolete after five years, if it makes it that long. Televisions don't last anymore. The old hulking sets that used to last for 30 years have been replaced by the new plasma with a lifespan of six or seven years and then off to the landfill they go along with billions of pounds of non biodegradable plastic that will outlive future generations.
Bigger, better, faster, cheaper, and most of all MORE. LOTS of it! Think about the whole concept of Christmas, Valentines, and Easter these days. Its not about religion, or about family and loved ones anymore. Its about how much stuff can I buy to outdo everyone else. How many gifts can I accumulate that will sadly end up in a landfill in about a year? How much candy can I stuff my already overweight kids face with for Easter? How much money can I spend on that big fat diamond for my girlfriend that someone in Africa got paid next to nothing to dig out of the earth? (yeah, if you want to see how nice the diamond industry is watch "Blood Diamond." Entire villages chopped with machetes and murdered because some greedy bimbo somewhere in the world needs a sparkly for her finger)
If you don't believe me look at the news to see where our ideals have gone. A few weeks ago I saw a video of people being trampled and injured in a Target store on Black Friday. People will trample you to get the bargain on that toaster! When did it happen that human lives are of less value than a fucking piece of plastic that will be soon forgotten after the gift is opened? Work faster, harder, because we need MORE stuff! Don't spend time with your kids because you have to work 24/7 to support your lifestyle. Shove some fast food garbage down their throat and ship them off to the mall-b-sitter. It's very very sad.....
I think my Grandmother had the right idea. I used to make fun of her but at least she realized that it isn't about more and it isn't about worrying what the neighbor has that you don't. (for all of you supposed Christians out there, need I remind you of "thou shall not covet"....hmmmm...guess that gets forgotten about this time of year!) It is about being there for the people who love you.
Lets all take time to think about what the holidays are supposed to be about....and actually spend time with the people we love for the right reasons, because we love them! I feel very blessed to have some very great people in my life right now...and someone who cares very much about me, and to me...they are worth more than any big screen television or diamond could ever be!
Posted by Michael Bell at 11:37 PM