Text: Suvi Myllymäki
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
Vesa Kumpula’s recent post about money made me ponder about what money means to me personally. I agree with Vesa that money does not bring happiness, but it does make life easier. If money is tight, we have to choose what to spend it on, and we may not be able to consider others aspects of consumption, such as how ethical, environmentally friendly or durable our choices are.
I am living a busy life with a large family, and we consume a lot of very basic commodities. We haul home shopping bags full of milk, tooth paste, soap and toilet rolls. We may or may not get wealthier later in life, when our basic consumption decreases. And yet, we have everything that we need.
Both extremes of material wealth have been highlighted in the public discussion. I read an article about a lady who abstained from buying anything for a year. She represented the prosperous part of the population and felt she had been buying too much just for the joy of buying. At the other extreme, there are reports of people living in utmost poverty.
In once read an interview of a couple with five children and a stay-at-home mother. They had to be careful about their spending. The writer of the article, however, seemed to live in a different reality. He wrote about the family being so hard up that they even had to cut their kids’ hair. I had a good laugh about this. To me, cutting my kids’ hair is perfectly normal, not a sign of poverty. I remembered this comment the last time I was cutting my boys’ hair, wondering if I felt poor about it. I didn’t. I rather felt rich being the mother of those lovely boys!
Consumption has also been seen as value-based. The writer of the article I referred to above said that consumption is like a religion. It is a holistic view of life, not just something superficial. Yet, the values held by people derive from different sources. We also experience things differently. There are things that may be perfectly normal for one person, but a sign of poverty for another.
The Bible encourages us to cultivate and protect the land. I find this a good guideline for our purchasing behavior. If we look at the future, it seems we all could do better in this respect. Although I do not have so much money that I could waste it on trifles, it is still good to carefully review my purchasing habits. It is also important to remember that all people are equally valuable and that we should not appreciate people based on their material prosperity.
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