People don’t need enormous cars, they need respect. They don’t need closets full of clothes, they need to feel attractive and they need excitement and variety and beauty. People don’t need electronic equipment, they need something worthwhile to do with their lives. People need identity, community, challenge, acknowledgement, love, and joy. To try to fill these needs with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false solutions to real and never-satisfied problems. The resulting psychological emptiness is one of the major forces behind the desire for material growth.
A quote from Africa, A Land of Hope that makes me think. Easy to not focus on material things (except groceries) here in rural Kenya when there is not a lot of television advertising or trips to the mall. When Edna said, thank you for the skirts, she added, I don’t think about what styles I like, I only think of buying food. As Rispah shared chai with us in her newspaper walled, 150 sq ft home this afternoon, she told us that she was thankful for her large home. Our ideas of material blessing are ginormous compared to the folks here. But the human heart remains the same continents over. I do not point fingers–my quest for material things has lessened considerably the last few years, but I am not prepared to sell everything to move to Africa. Our quest for more isn’t about the more that we desire, it’s about how it makes us feel–the neverending quest for making us feel good, to the exception of pursuing the most important things: sharing our things and our lives with each other, requiring respect from others and giving it too, and a certainty that we are valuable individuals created by God for unique purposes. I raise my Fanta soda to these things, in hopes that I remember them back home!