In my neighborhood there are old houses built during World War II, and at that time they sold for well under $20,000. One of these houses is currently on sale for more than $1 million. Far larger and more expensive homes stand on lots where smaller and cheaper homes once stood. These new homes are called "tear-down houses." How many regard these larger houses as steppingstones to an even-bigger next house? What is the purpose, other than ego fulfillment? The estate sale is the end of it all.
If things satisfied, wouldn't Americans be the most satisfied people on Earth? We have more stuff than any generation before ours. The overflow we deposit in rented public storage units. The stock market is up substantially, but we want it to go higher with no bursting bubble this time. Then what? What will we do with more? Will tomorrow's more satisfy when today's more hasn't?
Previous generations had less and yet seemed to have more of what matters: more character; more virtue; more contentment, all of it reinforced by parents, clergy and, for the most part, culture. In our day, materialism has become a false god we worship in the vain hope it will bring peace. In our conspicuous consumption we are self-immolating and the fuel is materialism.
Writer Jess C. Scott has said, "If money's the god people worship, I'd rather go worship the devil instead."
Given the behavior of so many on "Black Friday" and other examples of cultural decay and national decline, many of us seem to be doing just that. Israel's King David warned, "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." (Psalm 12:8).
Can't say we haven't been warned.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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