October 17, 2006

Stewardship vs. Consumerism

I've been thinking a lot lately about my insatiable desire for stuff. And not just any old stuff: I want new stuff.

The other day, when I was scrubbing away at the rusty brass light fixture just outside my front door, I realized that the opposite of buying new stuff was taking care of my old stuff.

There's a lot of discussion in some of the blog circles I frequent about changing the patterns of consumerism in our lives, and the concepts have intrigued me. But I know that I won't be able to just stop doing something bad -- like stop buying so much stuff -- without also start doing something good -- like start taking better care of the stuff I have.

So far it's just a theory, but I think the opposite of consumerism is "stewardship." (Now there's a word loaded for bear.)

Any thoughts?

7 comments:

Sara said...
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Sara said...

It's really really hard when you have a new place not to feel the "buy buy buy!" syndrome.

Your question is a hard one. I looked up the 2 words on Wikipedia:

Consumerism is a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption.

Stewardship is the responsibility for taking good care of our resources.

I guess I've never really thought about the definition of these words too much. But looking at them makes me think they are tied together/opposites. Contentment with your belongings/resources brings about a natural stewardship, which causes you to not consume. Hmmmm...

Sara said...
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Sara said...
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L.L. Barkat said...

Was thinking on this last night, as I sat down to sew a hole in my daughter's tights... who does that? But it felt right and good and loving, as I mended for her that which she already has...

L.L. Barkat said...

Also, do I hear a DJ article inspiration coming on? I rather hope I do. :)

Charity Singleton said...

Sara, thanks for hitting Wikipedia. I guess it's important to know what we mean when we throw out terms like stewardship and consumerism.

Here's another important distinction: consuming vs. consumerism.

The very design of our body requires us to consume: food, liquid, oxygen, etc. And yet none of these things are ends in themselves -- just the means.

This is what stewardship is to me -- caring for our bodies and our stuff as well as we can so that they will serve their purposes (and allow us to serve ours) as long as possible. Again, just a means. So even purchasing new stuff may still be good stewardship if we are using it for its intended purpose and plan to care for it as best we can.

Consumerism makes stuff an end.

Laura -- funny you should mention DJ. I've had that in the back of my mind, to be sure. Thanks for the prodding.

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