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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You AREN'T What You Buy

My parents have lived in the same house since the early 1950s, just a few miles from Pasadena, California. Except for his years in the army, Dad has never lived outside of greater Los Angeles.

So he sometimes has a hard time understanding my choice to be "a perpetual expat." When I announced that I was moving to China, he replied that he just "couldn't see it." (I said, "Dad, you couldn't see moving as far as Pasadena!")

When I pressed him as to why living in China was unimaginable, he finally said, practically groaning, "It's a Communist country."

If only he could see it.

There is a rampant consumerism here that would put any Black Friday stampede to shame. "1.3 billion consumers can't be wrong!"

And so I was not surprised the other day to hear a new twist on an old idea. I was in a cab when a shopping-oriented program came on the radio. As the intro music swelled, an announcer intoned this dictum (in English):

"You are what you buy."

Ay caramba!

I thought, "Who would be so naive? Who wouldn't see through this?" The answer, of course, is most of us.

I mean, isn't this what Madison Avenue has conditioned us to believe?

So let me be one of the increasing voices crying in the wilderness: You aren't what you buy. Nor what you own, nor what you crave.

The many who have gotten past this programming have experienced great freedom, and if you've "bought" this lie, you can, too.

Then, you'll be happier.

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