By Walt Lundin
Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish
What follows was inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and a related essay “Declutter Your World,” by Susan Eischen in the June 19 Our Sunday Visitor.
We have a lot of stuff – in our garages and storage units, our workshops and closets. A lot. When it became storageable and no longer usable, I don’t know. Every day, during eight minutes of commercials in a half hour we hear siren calls saying, “There’s something better! New and Improved! It’s trendy! The best people have it! Don’t fall behind! Buy, baby, buy!”
Our younger generation has heard this since infancy. We see them today, early campers in front of Apple for Apple’s newest … Basketball shoes? Black Friday? Huge crowd; mad stampede! (First aid help for the trampled.) Make Black Friday “No-Buy Day.”
Well, we older ones, aren’t Pavlov’s dog hearing the bell. We’ve been around the block a couple of times; not our first rodeo. And yet… Is there still a part of us that gets hooked sometimes? That wants to keep up with the Joneses? In the gadget department? Wheels? Cashmere sweaters? Square footage? (If the shoe fits, don’t buy it.)
Pope Francis worries about us. He worries also about our common home – our planet. He believes, along with a zillion scientists, that human activity is seriously hurting, perhaps beyond repair, our living space. “Never have we so mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”(#53, L.S.) It’s being done to the poor people and nations. We gobble up their resources for a lot of “things;” we chew up their lands and we spew lingering toxicity that will outlast our lives. They have a wasteland.
The Quakers or the Mennonites, one of those sparse, frugal churches, have a little verse: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.” A little restraint, please. Could we turn “want” into “won’t?”
Christmas, a very happy time for retailers. (I saw Christmas lights October 4 on Newell.) … What if we throttled down? Eased up? Does this sound too grinchy? Could we instead make it sound almost virtuous? Half-way noble? Take Pope Francis shopping with us when we shop? He invites us to find “a simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things…” (#722, L.S.) “Blessed are the poor in spirit. The reign of God is theirs.” (Mt. 5:3)