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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Egocentric and Hedonistic culture

That last post (as old as it is) is amazingly relevant to what's been on my mind in the last day or so. In my communication & consumerism class, we've been discussing just wages and tolerable working conditions and how common it is for the large corporations to support this while turning a blind eye to it and claiming they have no knowledge of it.
What really surprised me, though, was the attitude that some of my classmates had about it. They basically said that it is an unfortunate and sad situation but that it's really not their problem, and they think that when buying those products, they are in no way supporting it. It was amazing to see how desperately they tried to justify their consumption of these goods. They cling so close to their "right" to buy and do whatever they want that they too prefer to turn a blind eye. One girl even said that she wished they didn't tell people about what goes into the production of those goods because "people have to buy" them and they shouldn't have to feel guilty about it when they do.
I think this is a shocking example and manifestation of the egocentric and hedonistic society that we in the U.S. live in and are (sadly) exporting to the rest of the world. People are unwilling (and even find it a violent violation of their rights) to make any personal sacrifice so that another may not have to live in destitute poverty. Above another's dignity, they give priority to their own lifestyle of luxury - and then argue that spending ridiculous amounts of money on shoes and purses and sunglasses is not luxury.
In fact it seems to me that almost any problem that we see in our society can be traced back to these two central parts of our culture. Our egocentric and hedonistic nature has always shown its ugly face throughout history but in today's society it seems to have taken the place of all morals. This is what now qualifies something as good. If it is beneficial to you and you get some pleasure out of it (regardless of any long term effects or how it may impact others), than it is good and right.
Unfortunately, I don't have much room to talk. As much as I hate them, I can see these values in myself as well and struggle with overcoming them. But in order to overcome them, we first must have that desire to free ourselves from them. And to have the desire, we must admit that they exist in ourselves and in our community.
Ultimately, we will only be able to overcome these selfish and destructive value systems by the grace of God. With His help, we can experience the life that He intended us to live. Not one of self-centeredness and unquenchable desire, but one of joy and inner-peace; a life of fulfillment. May the Lord give us the strength to work towards that and help others along the same path.

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