Beware of Affluenza
One of my hobbies is to follow Global Trends. We are so fixated often as Americans on America we are out of touch with issues that most of the world is focusing upon.
This week many major world newspapers began to examine what is being called the "Super-Flu". Here is what they are saying:
Some experts have been looking at the genetic structure of the virus which caused the 1918 pandemic, as well as a serious outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 for clues which may help doctors combat such an outbreak. There were three flu pandemics in the last century, in 1918, 1957 and 1968. Even though the 1957 and 1968 outbreaks were less severe than the Spanish flu, they still accounted for 40,000,000 deaths between them (or 1% of the population). Researchers suggest that an approximate 30-year cycle between pandemics means we are well overdue for another one. (1% of America falling victim to influenza would mean 3,000,000 deaths!)
Today I believe that an even worse epidemic is already being reported in the US. However it is not Influenza - it is Affluenza.
What is Affluenza? It is so dangerous even the world has noticed. It is the habitual chasing of money and stuff. One gifted Christian writer calls it -- Possession Obsession. In September of 1997 PBS aired a special television program they entitled Affluenza. The topic was a warning against what the public sector has identified as the "modern-day plague of materialism." Here are the symptoms they observed five years ago:
- The average American shops six hours a week while spending forty minutes playing with his children.
- By age twenty, we've seen one million commercials.
- Recently, more Americans declared bankruptcy than graduated from college.
- In 90 percent of divorce cases, arguments about money play a prominent role.
Here is the PBS self-diagnosis questionnaire. As you think over these questions remember this is PBS not Paul, and yet they are saying the same thing! When the world points out our problems they are really bad!
Are You Escaping from Affluenza? Take this quiz and find out! Answer the following as honestly as possible.
1. My life would be happier if I had more money.
2. I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have, and the amount of time it takes to pay for, maintain, and store it all.
3. My partner and I have different views on spending and saving, it's hard to talk about these subjects without arguing.
4. My children seem more materialistic than I was at their age. (If you have no children, answer this from your experiences with the children you know.)
5. I never seem to have enough "quality time" with my family and other loved ones.
6. Our family loves clothing with the fashionable logos on it, and we're usually among the first on the block to see the latest hit movie.
7. I hardly know my neighbors, I feel disconnected from my local community.
8. I very often feel rushed, with too much to do and not enough time to do it all.
9. I don't enjoy my job; I would quit if I didn't have to work for money.
10. I don't feel that I live my life in total alignment with my values and beliefs.
11. I don't know what the interest rates are on my credit cards or exactly how much debt I have.
12. I pay only the monthly minimum payment on my credit cards.
13. I do not put money into savings regularly.
14. I spend much more time shopping each month than I do being involved in my community.
15. I sometimes buy something because it's cool or fashionable, not because I love it or need it.
16. I know I have more "extras" in my life than my parents and grandparents did, but I don't feel as satisfied about my standard of living as I think they were.
If Affluenza is the disease, what's the cure? If materialism is the poison, what's the antidote? Paul offers and answers. Look at 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
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