Increased wealth can mean increased debt because of the need to service financial commitments to cars, possessions and houses. This makes it more difficult to limit the demands that work makes on our time. The worker and the family can be trapped in a cycle of overwork, over-consumption and debt in the effort to achieve material success. Indeed, affluence can give rise to the mentality that one has an inalienable ‘right to things’. People can lose a basic sense of gratitude for what they have and instead be grasping for more and more.
The constant desire to produce and consume goods also places unsustainable demands on the earth’s resources and leads to the generation of pollution and waste. This cycle can undermine our responsibility to care for God’s creation now and for future generations. In these times we must make every effort to reduce our ecological footprint through caring for what we have and asking ourselves before buying more, ‘Do I really need this?’
The desire to possess more is at least supported, if not driven, by the media portrayal of what is needed to attain a happy and successful life. Consumerism and aggressive marketing also place self-interest and competition for material things above the idea of a society where we are all in service to one another.
None of us likes to believe that our lifestyle is in conflict with the greater public need. However, often there is resistance to reforms that would increase the distribution of wealth and opportunity to those in need because people believe that service to the community may reduce their personal wealth.
This is reflected in attitudes to taxation. Many people feel that increased taxes will threaten their quality of life. Additionally, because many who are relatively well off…