Thursday, October 25, 2012


The skirt I ordered came in the mail.  At first glance, I did not like it much.  Maybe I should send it back.  I tried it on.  Then I didn't want to take it off.  I had to take it off though, because I had to try on the pants that also arrived that day.  The pants were for a performance the next day.  If they were not going to work, I would have to go out shopping for some that would.  Luckily the pants were just what they needed to be.  I put the skirt back on and wore it the rest of the evening.  Its appearance is plain, but it's very comfortable.

Then there's the new goblet I got for druid rituals.  Ornately decorated, green and brown, Celtic knots, a tree.  Until now, I've been using ordinary mugs or glasses for rituals.  I could have kept on that way.  But instead I bought something.  I like its beauty.

It's wrong though, to like material things.  That's what they told me.

But material things make us human.  Humans wear clothes.  Humans cook their food in pots.  Humans live in houses.  We depend on material things for our survival.

Why then this shame?

It comes from my background as a Quaker and as a New Englander.

I think the aversion to materialism is much like prudishness about sex.  In order for humans to survive, we need material things, and in order for us to continue as a species, we need to procreate.  Therefore, we are endowed with desires for material things and for procreative activity.  The desires are strong, but if unchecked, can have disastrous consequences.  Therefore, we check them with cultural prohibitions.

I grew up in a culture of sexual revolution.  I was never taught that sexuality was shameful.  I was taught that it was joyful and good, but best kept private.

But I did grew up with the cultural prohibition on materialism.  And I still believe in it.  I believe that we consume far more than we need, and in so doing, we are destroying our habitat.  I believe that it's very wrong that some live in wealth while others live in poverty.

So yes, let me loosen up a bit and let myself enjoy a comfortable skirt and a beautiful goblet, but let me never forget the true cost of these things  -- what was taken from the environment to create and transport them, what work was done by humans to make them.

1 comment:

  1. materialism is a funny word. i'm not sure i understand the way people use it.

    but MATERIALS, and craft, well those are wonderful parts of being a human on earth. why not celebrate goblets and skirts? and color and the way things feel and sound?

    they weren't taken from the environment, they are still in the environment, you are in the environment, you are the environmennt. hmm... environment is another funny word. i don't like it. very cold abstract word. do you mean rather taken from a forest or a mountain? well anyway stuff flows round and round the Earth and keeps transforming. so what of it? enjoy it.