The Desensitization of North America by Consumerism and Its Affect on the Poor

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The Desensitization of North America by Consumerism and its Affect on the Poor Through the always turning cycle of consumption, North Americans are being desensitized of the true state of our global poor populations, leaving a crumbling developing world in the background of our consumeristic first world nations. As affluent, privileged North Americans, and specifically as Christians, our priorities should lay not in accumulating more wealth, but in spreading and distributing our knowledge, technologies and means. Our modern day society in North America, is based in and around a consumptionoriented state of mind. Don Slater comments on the materialistic lifestyle of our modern day culture, saying that, “the modern world of goods holds domination over the world of men and women, both in the everyday life and in the global processes which structure it” [Slater, 1997, p.100]. Our labour markets, economies and means of production are targeted to attain and sustain material prosperity for the citizens of privileged nations, with little regard for those who may live in the shadows of our spending and consuming. Like an addiction, the need to accumulate more material possessions grabs hold of people - at first it seems wrong; however, once you are in the middle of it, you barely feel its grasp on your life. Coming from a Christian standpoint, consumerism is the chief rival to God. Lives consumed by consumption are being exposed to false Gods, and more prominently, people are beginning to live in the world, and also be of the world. Our societies have an extremely unbalance economic life, and only until God’s will is considered, it will continue to remain unhealthy and destructive.

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Desensitization stems off of this domination that material wealth holds on people, specifically when held in regard to our response to the poor of our world. With an abundance of awareness being spread among communities through various means (word of mouth, educational systems, media, institutions), claiming ignorance on the matter of third world despair and need simply cannot be justified. While unfamiliarity may be the justification of some, it is highly unlikely that in a society dominated by education and a desire to achieve greater and bigger degrees, one can merely not know of the situation those are faced with outside of North America. Rather, a plain disregard for the reality of our world seems to be more plausible excuse for the actions of the materialistic citizens of our societies. The death of the world’s most vulnerable citizens happens so often and so abundantly that those on the receiving end of this news become accustomed to this now considered fact of life. The casualties of consumerism fade away far from the glare of media attention, only to be publicized when there is mass famine, civil war or natural disasters. Since our world is constantly shown, day after day, cases of mass casualties (terrorism, natural disasters, war) everyday disasters such as the 1200 children who die per hour due to poverty and disease [Van Til, 2007, p 144], become mere misfortunes, or ways of the world. A lack of glamour and media attention distracts people from seeking answers; if there are no special reports done on BBC, or no Film Festival documentary featuring everyday “misfortunes” such as famine, poverty, and disease, one can expect that most citizens will not react or be influenced to change. This sense of dullness in regards to North American responses to the poor resides directly with the inwardly pull towards accumulating more. Our society has moved into a

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state of “want”, which most often gets misconstrued as “need”. We are a pecuniary culture, revolving around money, “as concerned with ‘having’ to the exclusion of ‘being’, as commodified, as hedonistic, narcissistic or more positively, as a society of choice and consumer sovereignty” [Slater, 1997, p 24]. We are a culture of consumption, our...
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