In our western world, there is no doubt that our society is materialistic. Now, there are different levels of materialism, ranging from basic needs to indulging in a never-ending orgy of endless materialism. I do want to admit that I am somewhat materialistic, being brought up in the western world, but I am happy just to have food in my fridge, a roof over my head and a modest car to get around in and a television to watch the news and the odd hockey game on. I have learned that the most important thing in life is health, whether it is physical, mental or spiritual. I do like electronics and sometimes have to catch myself when I get the urge to upgrade my existing computer, television or digital camera just so I can have latest features. I do realize that there are over a billion people that don't have enough food and lack of shelter in this world. They are certainly not worried about upgrading their CRT television to a 40-inch LCD television or whether to put that fourth bedroom in a home with only three family members. I am glad to live in this part of the world and have the modern conveniences in life. There is nothing wrong with a certain level of materialism. The problem is with excessive materialism and greed.
It is astonishing at times to drive by new subdivisions in my area and see the size of new homes when the average family size is smaller than ever. Do we really need these mansions, or are we just getting them to impress our neighbors. Many of us can't even afford them. Then there are garages attached these new homes, and from what I have been told, some new subdivisions make a garage mandatory. We all know what has happened in the United States over the past few years with the home foreclosures and real estate crisis. First the banks got greedy lending to people that had no real hope of being able to pay it back in a timely manner, and people buying the home wanted more than they needed or could afford.
The amount of electronics being discarded and thrown into landfills today is astonishing. In many cases it is not that they are damaged. They are discarded because they don't have the latest features that our friends have and the media tells us that we should have. We are bombarded with advertisements on television and the Internet and movies telling us that if we only had this we would be happy. Consume, consume and consume more and we will be happier and the economy will be great. I heard one time from someone, that many of us in society are missing spiritual and inner peace and fulfillment in our lives, so we think that buying material things will make us happy. Consumer items do make us happy for a while but it only lasts for a limited time until we feel the need to buy something else that we really don't need. We also buy so much for our children now and we always say to our defense "we are just giving our kids everything we couldn't have". Are today's kids any happier? Are they better? Generally they are not. Sometimes today's youth are more empty inside because they are in broken families and don't have the traditional family settings that were once a big part of our society. The more kids get, the more they want in a lot of cases. That applies to much of the adult population as well.
Corporations today in many cases are only concerned about the bottom line. Being green and being environmentally friendly comes second and is often used as a marketing ploy. If you had a good year financially as a company, the next year any thing short of an increase is a failure. Many of our corporations are raping our planet and its natural resources just to make a short-term profit. It is never enough for a corporation to sit still and be happy with a profit; they need to find a way to make a larger profit next year, even if it comes at the expense of our environment.
Excessive materialism and greed by individuals and corporations are partly to blame for climate change and global warming. Excessive, needless consumption leads to more pollution in our air and water. It also helps contribute to water shortages plaguing parts of the world. We don't need to apologize for living in the western world and having material things. What we do need to do is ask ourselves how much is enough and how are we impacting others