Friday, December 17, 2010

Having and Aquiring

Last week I preached about mindfulness during the holiday season. I used shopping as a primary example of how our "wanting" knocks us off our center, and posited that the way to end the stress of wanting is not through finally "having it all" but through mindfunless and returning ourselves to the present moment. (We've been thinking a lot about Buddhism lately, in case that wasn't obvious).

One of the wise folks in the congregation noted, during the talk-back time, that perhaps there is a difference between acquiring and having.  She suggested that our society is better at acquiring than at having. In response I voiced the ethic we hear time and time attributed to indigenous peoples- using every part of hte buffalo or deer or any animal killed in the hunt is a sign of respect to the animal.  Here in this time and place when we go hunting it is for inanimate objects like smartphones and sweaters, and we have abandoned this ethic completely . 

It wasn't until I got in the car for the drive home that I realized what wonderful food for thought she had offered.   As the great Ben Franklin said "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." I don't know about you, but I have more stuff that I can use. Seriously.  I mean, how many of us have more books than we will ever read?  I know all you knitters out there have a stash that will most likely be passed on to your grand children.  More importantly, when I clean out my closet for the season and pass on the clothes I am "done with" what percentage do you think are actual "worn out?"  Part of the reason that jeans with pre-fab rips and faded splotches are in style right now is that no one keeps their pants until they are ripped and torn.  Maybe it is all about the thrill of the hunt, acquiring new things more than really using and appreciating the things we have.  There's always the option of becoming renunciates, but if we are going to stay in the world, we are going to have stuff.  What would it be like to really have it, instead of just acquiring it?

1 comment:

Robert Scheidler said...

Excellent observation. I think it explains a great deal about the orgy of shopping that characterized this season -- it is not really materialism so much as a compulsive desire to acquire stuff -- and it meets the same need whether it is for one's self or someone else.