What is Enough?

Ted is delighted.  On The Lane you can get a giant bar – and I mean giant.  It’s about 30 centimetres long – of his favourite Cadbury’s chocolate for £2.50.  It’s a bargain and he can eat it all at a single sitting.  In contrast, many who cultivate the cocoa harvest  will never have seen a chocolate bar, or tasted a piece of chocolate.

You may not like Cadbury’s chocolate, but what does take your fancy and tempts you to over-indulge at this festive time?  How pressured have you felt to make sure that you have plenty of food in for Christmas?  And what about those presents?  It’s a tricky one, isn’t it, because our consumption is someone else’s livelihood.  Our consumption is someone else’s profit and loss.

In last Sunday’s reading from Luke, John the Baptist is uncompromising in his stance: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”  The fashion industry wouldn’t be keen on us all having only one coat, or shirt, or dress.  They need us to keep on buying.  In fact 300,000 tonnes of perfectly wearable clothes go into landfill every year so that we can keep up with the new season’s fashions.

Although they are the most obvious, food and drink and clothes are not the only objects of our consumption.  I heard of someone who kept his books on the mantel piece.  At the right hand end, below the mantelpiece was a cardboard box. When he bought a new book, he placed it on the left of the row and the book on the right dropped into the box.  The books in the box went to Oxfam.

Talking of books, what books and magazines do we choose to read?  What television programmes and films?  What websites and social media do we consume?  What about the content of our conversations?  Are they nourishing, uplifting and healing?  Does our consumption promote our well-being, the well-being of those around us and “Peace on earth”? 

Chris Dawson

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