A few weeks ago I had a little blog chat with Phil Whittall about consumerism. I claimed that consumerism existed in Solomon’s day, and Phil’s response was this:
But Solomon certainly didn’t live in a society where consumerism was the norm. You have a rich elite, with Solomon the richest of them all. His riches were in part God’s favour and in part his oppression of the poor.
I agree, consumerism wasn’t normality in Israel at that time and, as Phil pointed out, Solomon was in the consumerist rich elite as a result of God’s favour and also his oppression of the poor.
A thought struck me this morning though. There really is no difference between Solomon and us. For Solomon he was in the rich elite and the poor he oppressed in order to stay there lived in the same city as him, his servants were physically there to serve him.
Today we are the rich elite but our servants are in a different country from us. Through technological advances, virtually everything now happens on a global scale, including oppression. The only difference is that now our servants live in different countries and we don’t ever have to see them, they just make our stuff and send it to us.
If consumerism is more prominent now that it has been in the past (and this is hard to argue with), then it seems to me that one of the major causes is likely to be this disconnection from our servants who enable us to consume.