Our culture seems organized against human flourishing, community, family and presence. It's a culture built on an economic need to create a compulsive, distracted consumption that fuels the development of the false self. The more I consume the more I am. In a culture like ours you're not allowed to be still, at peace, happy and content, for such a person would stop needing more and jam the cycle of consumption. A person who loses the desire to consume more than they need would become a threat to the great god of mammon that governs our culture's institutions that run the identity factories.
Susan White articulates this reality:
"If there is any overarching metanarrative that purports to explain reality in the late 20th century, it is surely the narrative of the free market economy. In the beginning of this narrative is the self-made, self-sufficient human being. At the end of this narrative is the big house, the big car and the expensive clothes, In the middle is the struggle for success, the greed, the getting-and-spending in a world in which there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of us have made this so thoroughly 'our story' that we are hardly aware of its influence."
From a young age I felt gripped by the need to manufacture an identity built on the sand of consumption, performance and celebrity, while at the same time being told that such a lifestyle was causing devastation to our planet's well being. The affect of these conflicting messages can lead us to into a confused anxiety that's both encouraged to consume more while at the same time constantly reminded of the environmental devastation caused by such consumption. Retail therapy woos me with the mantra that "the more I consume the happier I'll feel" but such happiness is so temporal. Thus the wheel of consumption and false identity is kept in motion. From YOLO to FOMO I'm left with a status anxiety that no amount of "likes" can heal. As long as I keep consuming the right brands and accessories I keep my false sense of belonging in tact and once I've identified the particular tribe I want to join, I then have to continue the consumption to affirm I belong to them.
Of course I'm the chief of all sinners in this department! While I write this I'm stting in a hipster coffee house wearing my black "V" with just the right amount of accessories. I find myself trapped in a constant tug of war between the false and the true self while pretending to be free. I can see now why the Church Fathers saw conversion as a journey and not a one off experience. Lord save me!
Oh - and please press the like heart below to ease my anxiety.