I recently watched the excellent documentary, What would Jesus Buy? The film uses a theatrical troupe that poses as an anti-consumerism church as a window into today's shopping-driven lifestyles. This is a very serious topic, but the church and their tactics are also extremely funny. As a result, the sober nature of the subject matter can be addressed in a way that provides a non-confrontational look into how most Americans spend their time and money.
The Church of Stop Shopping is lead by a
charismatic man who acts like a faith healer in order to stop people
from buying into the need to constantly shop. The Reverend Billy
preaches of the shopacalypse, an apocalyptic time when the world will
literally collapse in on itself from too much shopping. The Reverend
and his choir preach their message in front of Walmart and Starbucks and
in churches across America. Check out the trailer below:
documentary got me thinking. How do we as climbers and as outdoor
people buy into the need to constantly get more stuff?
based on the climbing and skiing and hiking gear stored in my garage,
the Reverend Billy would see me as great sinner. A consumer with too
much stuff for my own good.
However, I would argue that I use all
my stuff until it wears out. I would argue that I don't spend my days
hanging out in shopping malls and I would argue that I'm a fierce
advocate for these sports that I love...sports that revolve around
getting away from buying more stuff and getting people out to experience
I would also argue that the stuff we buy allows us
to experience wild places that need protection. Our ability to see the
beauty of these places leads us to become stewards of them, either from
afar with our choice of elected officials and our donations to
stewardship funds, or from close by with trailwork and litter cleanups.
The stuff we as outdoors people buy leads us to be better advocates for
And indeed, many expeditions go to places where the
entire economy is based on visiting climbers and trekkers. Not only do
those who visit such places bring money into those communities, but
they also bring aid in the guise of schools and medical care. Many who
visit these places are so impressed by the people that they support
foundations that provide such services to developing countries.
clearly, this is my defense of our lifestyles. And it's easy for us to
get tunnel vision and to only see what's good for our own selfish
interests. Certainly, the person who owns 700 pairs of shoes might have
just as good a defense....but then again, maybe not...