The Pursuit of Nothing

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The Pursuit of Nothing

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Advertisers are amazing. They are always coming up with some new thing to get our attention. Like the signs in New Zealand that I learned about in "Utne Reader" magazine. These billboards enigmatically featured "Nothing(tm)."

Now, I'm fairly jaded, but that aroused my curiosity. What is it? An exotic fragrance? A hint of a cool, cutting-edge technology on the horizon? The thing to get for someone who has everything? Actually, it turns out that Nothing(tm) was nothing. Literally. It was just a test to see how gullible we "consumers" are.

Not that a lot of people were sucked in by this, but to me it's a symbol of a materialistic society always seeking more, but always unsatisfied. Too often what we are sold on turns out to be Nothing(tm).

Only 45 Shopping Days...

As the Christmas shopping season hits us full bore, advertisers like to take their best shot at kids. Toys R Us has it down to a science. Yesterday they informed us of their new arrival.

"My Twinn has a wonderful announcement. Our new My Twinn Babies have arrived. Just like our famous My Twinn Dolls, each of the babies is truly unique. And we're sure you'll agree, they're the world's most lovable baby dolls." It's hard to argue as my girls pored over the catalog, though the $69.95 price tag made another argument.

Heather, my 9-year-old, is actually pretty astute to marketing ploys. In fact she has aspirations of being an advertiser herself, an honest one of course. She analyzes what the ads are trying to make her feel and do. This doesn't totally remove their enticing power, but seeing the inner workings does make her more of an informed consumer.

Thoughts About Materialism

Joel Meeker's article in this issue of VCM, "Thoughts About Thanksgiving," showed me another side to the subject of materialism. As Joel pointed out, "He who is not grateful for the good things he has, would not be happy with what he wishes he had."

Mega-wealthy King Solomon compared his frenzied search for more with trying to grasp the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11). The apostle Paul gave this perspective on material things: "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7).

This led me to an interesting thought. What is the difference between "nothing" and "something"? The nothings in our lives dissipate, tarnish, fade and disappear. The somethings that are really something last. They are the relationships, the qualities of character, the spiritual dimensions that can continue beyond the grave. Gaining more physical toys doesn't give meaning to our lives, but, according to Paul, "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

Heather, who is alert to materialistic marketing messages, also pointed out a positive message she read at school. She wrote this little article to describe something that really means something.

The Giraffe Project
by Heather Bennett

I was looking through my social studies book when I found out this surprising information: "Giraffes can live all over the world." But the author was not talking about an animal. A giraffe is what she calls people who stick their necks out to help others.

Maybe you know a giraffe. Maybe you are one. But are you an ostrich? An ostrich is someone who sticks his head in the ground waiting for problems to pass. No doubt an ostrich can also live all over the world. But by showing a good example, maybe we can all stick our necks out and make the world a better place.

Heather found that lesson something to get excited about, something to get involved in. When we get involved in helping others, expressing outgoing concern and active love, that's something to feel good about. Serving others through God's love is a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:2). Without it, we are Nothing(tm).

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