Importing the Idol of Consumerism
My friend Ashish came from Northern India to visit me in Chicago. We were eating at Gino's Pizzeria one day and ran into a youth pastor I know, along with his youth group. Just returned from Central America, they were debriefing. "So what did you learn from your trip?" Ashish asked. Student after student obsessed about the poverty of "those poor people." After they left, Ashish said, "Why do they think we're so poor?"
"Ashish," I retorted, "you are poor compared to any of those kids. It's hard to get their minds off their consumerist passions. I'm glad they experienced some dissonance."
"I'm sick of sympathy from Westerners who think we need more stuff," Ashish rebutted. "What does that have to do with our happiness? Please don't help import the consumerism idol into India."
He then told about the American group that was just with him in Delhi. "They were concerned about the bicycle I use to get back and forth to church. They told me they'd all chipped in to get me a car! That was the last thing I wanted. I think I 'rained on their parade,' as you say, when I told them that members in my church could use those same dollars to help start a micro-enterprise. They thought I was just being supersacrificial."