I don't watch much television, and I’m not much of a football fan, but I happened to watch the Super Bowl last night. When I do watch TV, I usually mute the commercials. But in the spirit of Super Bowl Sunday, I thought, "These commercials are supposed to be entertaining – I'll give them a try!"
I was quickly reminded why I usually mute the commercials. I was told that a certain soft drink would make me happy and that men only listen to their wives in order to be able to drive a speedy car. Many of the commercials that I saw were degrading towards women and others were just generally insulting. Why will insulting the consumer make them want to buy a product? But then, why is our society so focused on buying products anyhow?
While I mute commercials and try not to be a huge consumer, I struggle with living simply. The task is not a simple one, but our faith calls us to it. And an earth ethic calls us to it. Anything that we buy leaves a footprint on the earth and the people who produced it, or who live near where it was produced.
There is an old Amish saying that goes “To desire to be rich is to desire to have more than what we need to be content.” What does “content” mean to you? Are you content with the new iPod, a flat screen high def, and a speedy new car? Or can you be content with just food and clothing, as 1 Timothy 6:6-8 urges? I’m looking for a happy medium. I don’t want to have the latest and greatest technology, but I am currently living with a larger definition of “contentment” than 1 Timothy describes. And according to the Amish saying, I desire to be rich.
So, I struggle with where to draw the line, and how to “live simply so others can simply live.” I have read selections from “Simpler Living, Compassionate Life,” and found it to be an insightful read. In it several authors reflect on how the Christian faith calls us to live simply and what this means for our relationship to other people and the earth. Part of the call of living simply is living an abundant life, rather than a “wealthy” life. Living an abundant life focuses on community, justice, and compassion to all of creation. Let us share with each other to live simply on the path to an abundant life.