Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Distracted By Too Much Stuff

A socialite from Atlanta wears a dress to a party that she wore ten years ago and that's news now. And what's even more interesting is that, it is now considered trendy to spend less, simplify and admit conspicuous consumption is out. It seems people are changing their spending habits, because of the economy. Maxine Frankel, was quoted in a New York Times article (Extravagance Has Its Limits As Belt-Tightening Trickles Up by Shaila Dewan), "I think this economy was a good way to cure my compulsive shopping habit....It's kind of funny but I feel much more satisfied with the things money can't buy; like the well-being of my family. I'm just not seeking happiness from material things anymore." Here's the silver lining, people are starting to realize that perhaps they've over-accumulated stuff.  Most of us have too much stuff. Right now, flaunting wealth is considered bad taste and disrespectful. It makes people uneasy reading about families in California living in motel rooms and tent cities. Can something positive come out of this negative situation? 
Carol Morgan, who teaches law at the University of Georgia said "she felt a responsibility to cut needless spending. 'That is probably something that is a prudent thing to do in any event, but particularly now I see it as the right thing, as the moral thing to do." She now wants to increase her charitable giving.  I just read about an organization that helps families move out of motel rooms, by helping people to find jobs and apartments. It's called the Illumination Foundation, a cause worth helping. Ms. Morgan is quoted as saying she thinks people will replace extravagance with a "desire to live more simply-replace that with time with family or time for spirituality-what a positive outcome to a very negative situation."
Perhaps when things start to correct themselves, which I hope happens soon, people will find more time for things that really matter-like quality family time, time with friends and time for God. People rush from place to place in the modern world, when reflection, quiet time and prayer is so necessary for a balanced life.
This is a great quote from St. Basil--"If only we would permit ourselves not to see the present, but to gaze steadfastly with hope at things a little more distant."