Grace Ji-Sun Kim on Consumerism and Overconsumption

Graces BookIn a post that originally appeared in Ecclesio.com and then on her own blog, Grace Ji-Sun Kim shares an excerpt from her book, Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit.

Here are some teasers that may inspire you to check out the blog and the the book:

One of the problems the Western world is facing today is how to live a life so that all of humanity can flourish and not just a select few wealthy people.

When one looks at the world today, an inescapable fact is the vastly unequal distribution of assets, wealth, affluence, and life prospects. We live in a world where a relatively small number of people, about one-sixth the world’s total population of approximately seven billion people, have a preponderant share of the planet’s wealth and resources, while a significant majority of the remaining six billion lead lives marked by insecurity, poverty, misery, disease, and death.

Today, as capitalism and consumerism drive the modern version of colonization known as globalism, the gap between the haves and have-nots widens beyond anything ever known in history. This unequal distribution of wealth is taking a toll on the fragile planet and ecosystems that we all belong to. What drives the rich to consume all the resources is understood to drive the economy, so many of the rich people’s practices are not challenged or even questioned.

After reflecting on the perils that the drive to consume pose to people and planet alike, Kim presents an alternative vision:

The real wealth of a nation is its people, and the purpose of development is to create an environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives.  The good life is defined by the use of money to help people have decent, fulfilling lives. The good life is not having “more and more” but “enough” …

Kim addresses the tension within which humans live – a tension between freedom and limits – a tension expressed in Genesis 3. She goes on to explore the human role as a “steward.” She notes that too often humans chose to act, not as the stewards God intends us to be, but as bandits: cue Kurosawa and The Seven Samurai. 

The image of the steward intrigues me. Tolkien plays with the question of stewardship in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 1992 – as the United States marked the 500th anniversary of the invasion by or arrival of (depending on one’s point of view) of the Europeans in what we now know as the Americas – I preached a sermon contrasting the role of conquistador with steward. As Kim notes,  “It is not easy being God’s stewards, living in a garden where so much more is possible than is beneficial.”

Kim notes the warnings we are receiving about the consequences of our current consumer lifestyle of overconsumption. And she wonders if we will heed the signs and examine and change our ways of “being and living.”

There is much to ponder in the post. There are many topics for conversation. I encourage you to check it out!

See you along the Trail.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Grace Ji-Sun Kim on Consumerism and Overconsumption

  1. Pingback: Ecclesio.com and Grace Ji-Sun Kim in conversation | Along the Graybeard Trail

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