Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Consumer

I’ve been wanting to address the term “consumer” and how the mainstream media uses it fluently in describing the typical American citizen. Northern Farmer touched briefly on it in his April 16th post ( bottom of the third paragraph) and I thought this would be a good time to sit down and share some thoughts. I was going to draw a picture of a pig snarfing down a plate of food but, came across this gruesome picture that I thought would do better at illustrating the point I’m trying to get at here. I hope who ever the photo artist is that created this picture doesn’t get upset that I used it. I have no idea if it has copy right protection or anything. But the fact that I’m not profiting off of it I would hope will make using it alright.

It seems everyone from the media to the mega corporate merchandisers refers to the public as the conSumer. Some years ago I came to the realization that I was deeply insulted to fall under that definition. I do not like being called a consumer. I imagine the person who coined the word must have been some high and mighty looking down their nose on all us lowly common folk. “How can we squeeze out more from all the conssssumers?” Now I’m probably getting a little far fetch here but, that’s how degrading a term I feel that it is.

Is this what it has come to though? Is this what we become when you follow the industrial culture to it’s ultimate conclusion? Is that all we are? ConSumers? Maybe. Maybe to the lords of commerce. Maybe to those who want to put a number on all the people. (And animals for that matter. Lets not forget the NAIS.)

With our business I get a first hand look at all that is discarded from wanton consumption. Let me tell you, there is A lot of waste. It breaks my heart to throw out much of it. But, I couldn’t possibly keep all the good stuff I see. Some I save out or salvage. I try to think of someone who could use it or I just hang on to it incase some need comes along. And we’ve had a few instances were it was just the right thing at the right time for someone who needed it. It does my heart good when ever that happens. And sometimes we profit if we sell it on eBay or at a yard sale. We’ve considered starting a second hand store just to give the thrown away stuff a second life. But, then again who’s got time for yet another venture, remembering that the rat race was something we wanted to avoid. I think human beings who, being made in the image of God, deserve a little better title than that of being called a consumer. But, there are some who must think it is appropriate.

My Grand Parents had a lot of influence on me. They lived through the depression. I grew up with all the stories of life during that time. My great- uncle John hopped railroad cars and traveled around the country looking for work back then. He once got so hungry that he ate grass to have something in his stomach. Uncle John said, it was a great mistake to do that, since he got a terrible case of diarrhea.

Over the years a lot of the things Uncle John did like saving used nails, straitening them and reusing them rubbed off on me and I have found my self on many occasions doing exactly the same thing. It’s bad for me being in the trash business since I tend to save too much. If I had a good outlet for it then maybe that would be a different story. On the other hand I feel good about being thrifty and maximizing the usefulness of things instead of throwing everything out in this throw away society.

Earlier today my dad and I were having a conversation about this. We were talking about Craftsman cordless drills. When the batteries are shot it is hardly worth buying a new one. Sears jacks the price up so high on the batteries that it’s more economical to throw out the entire drill and buy a new unit entirely rather than simply replace the battery and keep using the perfectly good drill. And then they have the nerve to call us consumers when they themselves designed into the system, planned obsolescence.

Homesteading and biblical agrarianism in it’s simplest form runs contrary to the modernistic consumer mentality. Rather than being a consumer one nurtures creation and brings forth abundance. Providing for their own need and the needs of others. Not using up precious resources but instead creating a sustainable and renewable system which becomes an almost limitless means of self support.

When I look at Gods economy I am blown away by the extravagant abundance. Before we moved to Wisconsin we began raising rabbits in a shed in the back yard. That was when I first began to fully realize how God takes care of us. We started with one male and two females. Each female had around 7 babies. The gestation of a rabbit is 31 days if I remember correctly. You can do the math, it doesn’t take very long for three rabbits to turn into hundreds. That’s Gods economy. I stand in awe because it’s everywhere you look even in plant life. Take one kernel of corn, put it in the ground and that ones turns into hundreds more. What an extravagant abundance! Or look at a field of wild flowers. A sea of color before your eyes. That’s Gods economy and it’s sustainable. There’s no room for greed or over consumption with such prolific production of resources. A family who is close to God and close to such vast wealth of which the earth so richly provides is a family who’s strength is hard to measure.

I"ve never hear of anyone feeling insulted by being called a consumer like I do. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m being too sensitive. But, do me a favor and listen for it. See if it doesn’t seem like we all are just being herded along like some dumb beasts being manipulated and controlled into doing what the masters want us to do, CONSUME. I mean, consumer is what they call us.

How about we play a trick on them and instead of being a consumer, consuming everything, become one who brings about something that is sustainable. Someone who adds true wealth instead of just ripping out all the natural resources from the earth and giving nothing back in return. How about creating strong independent families who think for themselves and help each other out in neighborly love instead of isolating our selves and living just for our own worldly pleasures.

Now, I realize I’m probably over blowing this a little to make a point. But, there is something beneath the words we use and we should consider the underlying influence they have on our thinking. If we are going to break free from the things that enslave we almost have to develop new words in order to deprogram ourselves from what the controlling institutions have slipped into our minds all these years.

Well, I suppose I should wind this post to a close. You may have noticed I haven’t been able to make as many posts as I did when I first started blogging. Winter has for several weeks given up it’s icy grip and spring is here, there is much we want to accomplish this year. The changes I see coming are almost dizzying. I’ll try to keep posting even if it’s just a picture with a caption or a note to say that I’m still around. But, you never know it might have an opposite effect and I’ll blog even more sharing all the exciting things that have been happening around here.

Like just the other day we got some bee’s. I’m very excited. I didn’t expect to like it so much. So I hope to do some posting about my crash course in bee keeping. Hmm, I can feel a post coming on now so I’d better sign off now or I’ll be up all night.

Until Next Time


Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

Thanks so much for this post. My husband Jim has talked quite extensively to the boys and I that we are to be thinking like producers instead of consumers, and I think he is very right.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Russ!

Great post!

I've felt offended by the label 'consumer' as well. Now with gas prices rocketing up, I am very conscious of every drop of fuel that I consume.

I find so much more joy and fulfillment as a nurturer of the garden seedlings that seem to double in size every few days.

I've missed your words of wit and wisdom but certainly can relate to the rush of spring.

We just had a great 'Country Living Skills' workshop today on country safety. I'm starting to figure out my computer editing so now I'm getting much more detailed in my video production. Instead of just copying the workshops, I'm now working on subjects like seed starting and homestead greenhouses. But then again, I'm outside playing in the dirt and need some rainy days to finish some of my editing. I've got miles of good video tape, just got to put it together.

May God continue to bless you and yours!

10:56 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hey there Lynn!
Hey there Steven!

I kind of felt like I was being somewhat negative with this one and hesitated at posting it but, I really do feel that the consumer mentality is bad for us as individuals, families and nation. We are ever tempted with not being satisfied with what we have.

On the bright side it is cool to see God calling people of all walks of life away from rampant materialism.

In the end Gods ways are the best ways.

Thanks for the encouraging comments.


12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was very great to read. I had the smae kinf of thoughts when we go to restaruants. Seeing people leaving half there meals on the table instead of bringing it home for another meal. It is truely sad the we take everything for granted like that. God Bless. PJ

12:28 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Please hurry with your post about the bees! We're getting ours next week, and need to know everything we can! (Thankfully, I'll be gone, Dad can take care of them.) :-)

1:12 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I, too, bristle at the "consumer" label. And if I don't bristle, I get embarrassed. Consumerism is so selfish and short-sighted. I find it unattractive - no, repulsive. And yet I see myself being a consumer and raper of the earth when I look at the mounds of packaging I throw away, or when I find myself buying new because it's cheaper than repairing the old.

I know that awareness is a positive step. Acting on that awareness is sometimes difficult. But at least we're moving in the right direction.

3:02 PM  

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