Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I remember my first home computer – a Texas Instruments TI99. It used a cassette recorder as the hard drive and the TV as the computer monitor. I spent (wasted) hours of time programming and playing games. This first computer started my journey into the “I’ve got to have it now lifestyle.” Now thirty years later, I own several computers, ipads, Smartphones, TV, etc… I cannot imagine my personal or business life without these items. Like many others, I have become dependent on these and other tools to help me be productive and to entertain me.
According to Al Gore, “we live in a culture of distraction.” Over the years, Western cultures have systemically consumed more and more of the worlds natural resources to fulfill our ever-increasing needs/wants from technology to toys. We believe that it is our right to possess every new gadget that comes out. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Sony produce all types of items to entertain or make our lives easier. New technology sells and is adopted at alarming rates by consumers.
My family is very passionate about the environment and caring for God’s creation. I have had to recognize my own materialistic attitude. I was raised in a poor household, and we didn’t have much. So, when I began to make my own money, I was easily drawn to the mindset of having new and plentiful things. In many ways, things represented my success. They also represented my downfall. I had to learn that my success and happiness in life come from the Lord. My success and happiness cannot come at the expense of others. This means that my entire way of thinking had to change from the world’s understanding of success to understanding what true blessing means.
“There comes a point in many adventure stories when the man characters have seen the true nature of the crisis they face and it is far worse than they’d previously imagined. It is not their own lives that are at stake but also a community they belong to, a value they cherish, a cause larger than themselves.” This is exactly the point that I found myself in. My life’s adventure was based on materialism, and had a negative impact on those whom I loved and on the environment. My environmental footprint was toxic. I quickly realized that all the things I loved and cherished were being destroyed due to my selfish behavior. We all want to live in a beautiful world, where we can have time to enjoy and relax in relationship with each other. Western cultures spend mass dollars on vacations each year, because we have destroyed our own environments and require a break from them along the way. We continue, like robots, in a manufactured world that strives to make us work hard and harder. Even our enjoyment or relaxation has become manufactured. Life no longer “just happens” – it is always controlled and planned. When is the last time that you just had a weekend to take in God’s beauty and spend time with your loved ones – no agenda and no technology? Often, we even forget how to have real and engaging communication with each other. We forget how to just be with each other.
Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone , in Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy, remind us of the need to pay attention to our inner self and spiritual wellbeing. By doing so, we will be able to separate ourselves from the craziness of the fast world around us. The first step of making a difference is to step back, reflect on our own lives, change where needed, and then get refreshed so that we can tackle the challenges that Christ lays before us. We need to prioritize and recognize that our world and ways aren’t always the best. Are we being good stewards of resources, our things, and other people? Money and technology aren’t always the answer – and our way of life isn’t necessarily the best.
 Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2012), 25
 Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2012), 1