1. Jessica Devine says:

    Amen sister!
    Thank you for writing this!
    You’re timing is perfect!
    Your words are poetry with a conscience!

  2. JW says:

    I’m sorry, but your failure to realize that the shopping mentality enslaves millions of middle and lower class Americans belies that as an upper class momma, you don’t see, realize or feel the horrible cycle that that the shopping mentality inflicts on America. We used to have laws against usury because just like drugs, responsible politicians realized it is simply beyond the will power of a majority of citizens to break the habit. The stakes are stacked against too much against the consumer when the interest rate starts at 18% and jumps to outlandish rates upon one late payment. Look in the malls. Although it varies, it’s largely lower and middle class folks spending the day as a form of entertainment, inevitably leading to useless spending (as you point out). They are just as much in need as the others in distant lands, and eductaing them would help the ease the consumption cycle as well.

    • Beth says:

      JW – Huh? While I think you might have some good points in there, I’m not sure how I would fit all that in a single blog post. And just so you know, I am far from an “upper class momma.” Thanks for reading!

    • Skippy the magical hampster says:

      JW, how do you get that Beth is wealthy? You seem to be generally agreeing with her and simultaneously judging her negatively, very wrongly, I might add.

  3. “It just isn’t fair. You can’t pick the macaroni off of someone else’s cardboard and glue it to your own. That’s not tolerated.”

    Unfortunately, Beth, I think it is tolerated–on the grander & less personal sphere. And “fair” got lost somewhere between my childhood and yours. I’ve learned to not even use the word anymore since so many people have rejected my use of it as appropriate to ANY situation.

    This past week NPR did a whole look at the horrible Enron catastrophe. There are still people that think that what those executives did was ok–I’m being broad here–because they got away with it and they were just doing what we right for the company.

    Which leads me to remembering that the Supreme Court has now decided that the VERY amoral American corporation is entitled to the same consideration as an individual. At least individuals are still held accountable–if they are caught red-handed–and judged for being immoral, whereas a corporation is not considered culpable because because it is not human and does not have to be moral. I’m SO confused! What a world we have been living in.

    The good news is that more & more people are saying I won’t take it anymore. Maybe the morality/immorality scale as finally been tilted too far. Maybe we’ve been asked to swallow too much.

    Hope I didn’t curdle anyone’s eggnog!

  4. luisa says:

    when i turned thirty, i decided that i wouldn’t buy anything beyond what i needed (i.e. toiletries, gas, food and plane tickets to see my family) for a year. i’ve always been frugal but that year taught me that there was so much i didn’t need. the practice stuck and i rarely buy myself things unless i really need them. it helps to have girlfriends who love to shop and pass along rarely worn, designer jeans, shoes and such… that said, i gave myself a loophole with gift cards that year and recently upgraded to an iphone 4s. i know i can do better, which is what this blog reminded me. the holidays are the worst when it comes to unnecessary consumption. thankfully, my family is mindful of the trap; we have been picking names out of a hat for years. it’s taken the pressure off to spend money you don’t have on gifts that people often don’t really want or need anyway… nicely done, beth. xoxo

  5. Very well said, Beth. What I hope for is that as more and more Americans become enlightened to our own waste and greed we will simultaneously understand the enormous power we carry by our spending habits. I say to my kids again and again, “if people didn’t buy it, they wouldn’t make it”. We have to take our own power into our hands and STOP buying. If we STOP buying, they’ll stop making. I believe this is the only way to break some of this ridiculous cycle. But marketers are smart. Just as I feel I have detached completely from the consumption cycle, someone will come up with products or marketing methods that catch my eye. Anthropologie is one of those places for me. I can’t afford a thing in there but I’m so attracted to everything about their stuff. If I could afford their stuff it would be a matter of remaining determined not to be sucked in. We must all remain determined in this heavily marketed to culture. (of course, one thing that keeps me away is that I inevitably call it “Anthroposophy” and suffer my teen’s ridicule for a while).

  6. Babs says:

    A friend forwarded your post to me. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I live in Mexico and your perspective is my feelings on not living in the USA.

  7. vic says:

    Touched some nerves! Way to go. You nailed some big issues. The big problem to me (and in me)…we are selfish to the core. All of us. We each have various (sometimes sophisticated) disguises. But if we get alone and really honest, we can see it. The problem is bigger than opinions and positions. It is, in fact, bigger than us. The problem is in the mirror, but not the solution.

  8. Kaia says:

    Love this, Beth! Could not agree more. It speaks volumes that in our greed, we are not a happy nation, yet so many living in poverty can find joy in simple things.

  9. Nita says:

    Maybe Congress should pass some laws to limit how much time Americans can spend in the malls. Since they are taking away so many of our rights, I guess they might as well take this one and maybe that would save the planet!

    • Beth says:

      For me, it is more about taking personal responsibility and choosing a conscientious lifestyle than blaming the government, left or right. I’m okay with cynicism, too, as long as it isn’t rooted in anger. “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.” Marcus Aurelius

    • Skippy the magical hampster says:

      It would be great if Congress could pass some consumer protection laws and strengthen important agencies like the EPA and Department of Education instead of spending the nations wealth invading middle eastern countries to steal their natural resources.
      As far as shopping laws and restricting malls goes, it’s very unfortunate that the USA has been deceived by corporations and their minions in government into an amoral consumer lifestyle that is killing the planet. We don’t need mall laws, just Americans with a conscience.

  10. Ann says:

    Love your blog, Beth. This is the term that came to me in my last visit to the US: “Incubator of Oblivion,” and your post summed it up perfectly. In the US, consumerism’s overwhelming messages bombard me with frightening force. At first, it is easy to recognize and fight against them, but in time, the constant pressure dulls my senses and weakens my defenses. It’s not long before I find myself fantasizing about things of no worth and forgetting that majority of the world lives in poverty.

    Consumerism’s anesthesia (oblivion) is perhaps its greatest weapon: we can conveniently forget our responsibilities to the planet and the world’s poor, and become entirely captivated by what should otherwise be a pointless race to get and spend our lives away.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you, Ann, my new friend and fellow enthusiast! I look forward to many more such discussions. My mind is racing, let me tell you. Let’s have tea soon or something.

  11. ravyn says:

    awesome post. really. I totally relate, too. I have felt protective of life here in Palestine and it just gets my ire up to see KFC moving in to this non-fast-food culture. and I have also felt embarrassed for similar reasons. thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Faris says:

    Great post. Your comment about there being more that wasn’t shown in the malls, that it wasn’t the whole picture, made me think of a photography project I recently browsed that tackles the subject of consumerism, and I thought you might enjoy it. You can find links to it from this review (from another good website New American Dream):
    Keep your honest insights and great writing coming.

  13. Rhonda says:

    I have recently begun to read your blog and am so inspired to see someone living out her ideals and teaching her children the value of individualism. I agree with you – we have so much to learn from those around us, especially those who have not been corrupted by the commercialism we have been bombarded with our entire lives. As a 34 year old mother of a fifteen month old, I have been trying to make more thoughtful decisions so that I can teach my daughter a better but less materialistic approach to life. Unlike most of the people who seem to comment, this is a completely new way of thinking for me. I have been caught up in the materialism and corporatism of the western world from birth until now, but it has almost broken me financially and spiritually. I do not want to live like this any longer and want to teach my daughter and any future children that there is a better way to live. Please keep your thoughts and ideas coming! Thanks for putting yourself out there for all of us!

    • Beth says:

      Rhonda, I so appreciate your thoughts, openness and encouragement. I assure you, I will keep writing — comments such as yours make me want to do just that. And good for you for choosing to be thoughtful. It’s not always the easier route, but I agree, it’s better on the soul.

  14. ashley V says:

    “You know what I do feel? I feel embarrassed.”

    it’s so good to read that others actually DO feel this way too!

  15. Ruth Kirner says:

    I’m so proud to hear your words. I agree with all my heart. A good read (for hope for America to wake up) is ‘Spontaneous Evolution’ and you can get it used on Amazon. Just found you tonight and will stay with you. cheers!

    • Beth says:

      Thanks, Ruth! I will definitely add it to my list of books to order next time we are stateside. I appreciate your encouragement!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Ruth. I will totally check out “Spontaneous Evolution.” I’m glad you’re here!

  16. Dorothy says:

    Your post describes on of the reasons why my husband and I chose to raise our children in his native country, Tunisia. American consumerism is overwhelming, and here we were able to talk about it and not completely succumb. Distance lends perspective; it is hard to help Americans caught up in the cycle actually see what is happening as they have grown up feeling entitled to the way of life there. I wonder and worry if it will take a disaster to force a change in American consumerism. It would be better if change could come by thoughtful choice, as you have described.

    • Beth says:

      Dorothy, you are spot on in describing my own feelings. I am so grateful for the perspective I’ve gained from the outside.

  17. Kel says:

    I know I’m a few years behind, but sadly, not a lot has changed in consumer practices since you posted this gem. Shopping is a tough one. Personally, I hate it. But, it does keep people employed and drive the economy, yada yada yada…. so the best I think we can do is choose good and ethical businesses to spend all our “easy-come-easy-go upper class dinero” (Ha!)

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