Quite possibly you’re sitting there wondering “What in the world IS Affluenza?” So did I the first time I heard it! Influenza I knew all too well! In fact, I’m recovering right now from yet another bout of it – mamma mia! But I only recently heard of Affluenza, a term mainly used by critics of consumerism.
Symptoms of Affluenza.
Some of the most common telltale symptoms of affluenza are: an addiction to shopping, a need to accumulate more and more stuff, and a feeling that you’re never able to keep up with it all. And it’s a sad, stressful way to live.
The book, Affluenza: The All-consuming Epidemic, describes it in this way:
A painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more .
Affluenza is brought on when consumerism encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. Throwing things out instead of fixing them. Or buying even when we don’t need anything.
Then I found two articles which in my opinion show the effects of Affluenza on society.
These articles on a major news site clearly depicted the increasing disparity and inequality prevalent in today’s society. One discussed the immense need among the world’s homeless. And the other the unveiling of an extremely wealthy family’s yacht.
In many cities, sea ports are some of the most degraded, poverty-stricken neighborhoods. The world’s poor migrate there, hoping to find work or embark toward a better life. And I can’t help but wonder: how do these yacht owners deal with the obvious disparities between their own life and what they see there?
Or do they simply NOT SEE? Which is possible, because they likely pull into clean, secluded ports where limousines await to escort them to luxurious yacht clubs or hotels.
It is not my intention to criticize anyone, even wealthy yacht owners. Especially when my own life has so much room for improvement. I talk a lot about good stewardship and being our brother’s keeper. And even though my life is far from sumptuous, I could do so much more.
And likely most of us would like to DO more than we do. And GIVE more than we give. But how? It often seems we barely have enough as it is. Both of time and finance.
Could it be that Affluenza gets in our way?
Now, I’m not too sure the anti-consumerist movement has all the answers. Sometimes they promote total financial equality, which isn’t even realistic. Christ said we would always have the poor among us. And it wasn’t that he didn’t care for the poverty-stricken, struggling masses. For he did care, deeply.
But God did not create a bunch of clones with identical cookie-cutter lives. Even-steven for everyone. Yet he does expect us to help the poor, and do what we can to make their life more tolerable.
But perhaps we focus too much on “living the dream.”
Maybe you, like us, don’t follow the dogged pursuit of more and more. But the western world is famous for affluence and ‘chasing the dream’. And dreams are good. Wanting a good and decent life for ourselves and our families is normal, and part of family responsibility. ❤
But where does it stop? Where should it stop?
Affluenza tries to convince us that we don’t have enough.
Yet most of us have so much stuff we can’t even keep track of it all, and struggle to find enough storage areas! And, sadly, the stress of this can steal our peace and joy.
So try these 3 remedies for keeping the affluenza bug at bay:
1. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
- Let’s stop comparing ourselves and what we have (or don’t have) with others.
- Count (literally) our blessings, our achievements, our progress.
- Become consciously, actively grateful for what we do have and what the Lord has helped us accomplish.
2. Cultivate a heart of contentment.
- Learn to be satisfied with what God has given. Does he, or does he not, know what is really best for us?
- Learn to live with less and to find contentment in that freedom.
- Don’t shop just to shop.
- Remember that we can’t (and shouldn’t) have everything. Where would we put it anyway?
3. Nurture a generous spirit.
- Remember that giving is so much better than getting, getting, getting.
- It is more blessed to give than to receive.
- God loves the cheerful giver.
- And all that Christ has given so generously isn’t really ours anyway!
We can have too much stuff. But we can never give enough!
And we can never have enough gratitude, contentment, generosity, love, joy, peace, and other true riches!
He said to them, ‘Beware, keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of things which he possesses.Luke 12:15 WEB
Watch the Affluenza documentary on YouTube. It’s quite an eye-opener.