Who are we?
Notice, I didn’t ask, “What” are we?
As for the what, there’s a lot of pressure on us to be a what. A consumer! And sadly, so many Americans wear that label proudly. That we refer to ourselves as an “American Consumer” is, or so it seems to me, a contradiction in terms.
Would Washington or Jefferson have nodded in agreement with this?
Or Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.?
1957 Cadillacs were consumers, and so are garbage disposals and slot machines.
The boys and girls in charge of consumerism don’t want us to think about this. They want happy spenders digging themselves deeper and deeper into a financial hole, living for the day and ignoring tomorrow. When 9/11 happened, we were told to go shopping, when we might better have been told to take a few days for family prayer and reflection, or study-up on the Middle East or seek out a Muslim neighbor and find out how they’re feeling.
We used to be a nation that saved.
We paid for things in cash.
We bought stocks for their long-term dividends.
We were slower and more relaxed.
Our homes were smaller and so were our cars.
We ate out less and spent more time with our children.
The gap between top and bottom was smaller.
People sat on their front porches and knew their neighbors.
Kids played in the neighborhood and every adult was their parent.
We were not consumers. We were people.
Our Founding Mothers and Fathers worked hard and sacrificed for us to be people.
And to be people is how God created us, and the reason why Jesus paid us a visit.
He died, of course, because the powerful and the wealthy in Jerusalem were afraid of the people figuring out how badly they’d been duped.
Yet when Easter came, we knew the truth.
We are people!