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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Billboards

I’ve just come through a couple of days of billboard country. Mile after mile, high and low, both sides of the road they call out to me as I drive along. There’s really no way to avoid the clear message: I am the most important person in the world. I am the centre of the universe. I am entitled to the best, the biggest, the sweetest. Everyone out there was created to serve me and my every need, my every want, my every whim or desire.

There is not a restaurateur, realtor, insurance agent or health care provider not poised at the ready to serve me with comfort, luxury, healing. Come to us and we’ll make you feel like one of the family they offer. (Somehow I don’t get the sense they want me to wash the dishes or take my turn cleaning the toilets.)

As I drove along in the glow of all these extravagant offers coming at me from billboard after billboard it occurred to me that most of modern life is quite this way for those of us who live the typical North American lifestyle. Certainly if we’re not careful. We are “marketed at” constantly.

No wonder that we can so easily fall into a feeling of entitlement. We may think it just normal that our politicians promise us things. Why would we not want them to take care of us, cut our taxes, preserve our favoured services. After all, am I not Number One? I’ve been hearing it forever.

One little conversation from the previous family weekend comes to mind. “How do you teach values to children who have everything they need, and most of what they want?”

I think it isn’t just our children we need worry about. I think it’s so important to talk, teach, practise and model generosity. How easy it would be just to allow ourselves to be lulled by the marketing messages bombarding us on every side. We start to believe that we deserve all that we have, that somehow it’s our due. It’s pretty easy to become convinced that we’ve got here by our own efforts, our own hard work, our own "just because" we're just so fine.

And yet the facts are otherwise. We who live at the top of the heap must take seriously the need in our world. Not just in countries far away, although for sure it is there. But right here in our own neighbourhoods. At the base of those billboards there live hungry children, working poor, communities of people who don’t enjoy all that good food and luxury and comfort pictured up above them there.

Fifteen hours on the road, looking at all those billboards has brought me to a place of thinking just what all these messages convey. I don’t want to forget to be generous and thoughtful about my resources. Here’s my suggested antidote one more time: Talk, teach, practise, model generosity.

Posted by Marion

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