Category | Food for Thought

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christmasgift1.jpg“Dollar for dollar, we are able to buy more things and make more things for more of our people than any other society. Ours has been described by sociologists as ‘the’ consumer society. And we’ve got the goods and the dispositions to buy them to prove it….

In order to keep our incredibly successful system working, there is something very important we Americans have to do. Buy! We have to buy the stuff that our system produces. And we have to keep on buying. The megatons of consumer goods that flow out of our factories annually must be purchased fast and furiously. If they are not, factories will close, workers will become unemployed, and everything will stop. There is no doubt that the continued success of our way of life requires that we Americans become unrestrained consumers.

But there is a major problem in all of this. And that is that those of us who have the money to buy all of the stuff that our factories produce already have everything we need. I didn’t say, ‘Everything we want.’ I said, ‘Everything we need.’ There is no question about it. We have become a people whose needs are more than gratified; our essential hungers are more than satiated.

If people like you and me, whose needs have already been met, are going to keep America going, we are going to have to buy what we don’t need. And we are going to have to buy what we don’t need in larger and larger quantities. As absurd as all of this may seem, the survival of our way of life depends on this.

Just think about last Christmas season. Your biggest problem was probably not figuring out where you would get enough money to buy presents for family members and friends. Instead, it was trying to figure out what to buy for people who had ‘everything.’ The answer to that problem should have been self-evident. What you should buy for those who have everything, is ‘nothing.’ But you didn’t have the guts to pull it off, did you?


Instead you went up and down the aisles of department stores having anxiety attacks. Panic-stricken, you searched, yea, even prayed, that somebody somewhere had invented some new things that nobody needs so you could buy them for people who have everything. This is not an absurd description of a reasonable world. It is a rational description of an absurd world.”

Source: Tony Campolo- “Carpe Diem-Seize the Day” (1994, Word Publishing)

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