Surviving College

Love Listens: a live blog from church

“Sunday is the most segregated day of the week,” entrepreneur Scott Williams’ voice rings out in Bush Chapel, “what MLK spoke decades ago still stands true today.”

I look around and see many, many students crammed together under one roof for this morning’s chapel service. I take note of our differences but celebrate the fact that we are all here to hear the same word–accepting the same truth in our lives.

If you don’t like diversity, you’re not going to like heaven,” Williams laughs, as the hundreds of us laugh along while nodding in agreement with him.

Breaking Barriers

Today, on a Tuesday morning at 9am, I attended the first Athletic Chapel at my university. I go to a Christian university where we are dedicated to making space for all types of people doing all kinds of things on and for our school, and today was the first chapel of the year for athletes and students to join together to learn something from every team on campus.

I’m not an athlete; I don’t understand sports talk. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if there was much I could learn from a service dedicated to athletes. But I do understand the few things we have in common and try to relate to those things.

Like the fact that just being a student in college is difficult at times. The tests, the homework, the projects, and presentations; trying to balance social life with a decent GPA. It gets tiring. Sometimes I wonder if I will survive. But it wasn’t until our campus pastor got up on stage and laid out what student athletes endure every semester until I realized I know nothing about their struggle.

“The 6am practices, the ice baths, lifting weights and physical therapy,” the campus pastor says to the crowd of students gathered together, “on top of studying for exams, taking quizzes, writing papers, attending class. Blood, sweat and tears shed and–most of the time only God is watching you.”

It struck me. I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of athletes who attend class and write papers just like I do, yet who also face a whole different struggle that I will never know.

Sometimes in our struggle, we are only seen by God.

“The things you do in secret are the most effective for the kingdom,” says one bright student athlete while sharing her devotions for offering this morning. She encouraged the athletes and non-athletes alike to seek God and do what we know is good and noble–even when no one is looking.

Even when no one is looking.

Sometimes it’s me who’s not looking while my neighbor struggles.

My responsibility and calling as a follower of Christ is to follow the great commandment, to love God with all my heart and the great commission, to love my neighbor as myself and make disciples from every nation.

“It is the great commission, not the great omission where we go out and make disciples and omit the part where it says ‘from all nations.'” Scott Williams

“How are you adding to the solution?” says Williams, “how are you going out of your way to listen to your neighbor?”

Despite what we are going through personally, love should seek first to listen before it is ever heard.

We should all be working towards the common good–even if it’s not the same cause. As Christians and fellow brothers and sisters, we are all working together to move the ball down the field for the better of our neighbor, our country, and the world.

Living Simply

The *Not-So-Great Depression

Previously, I blogged on Minimalism vs Consumerism and your mental health. I wrote about how our culture today defines us by our things, along with different ways to combat materialism to improve mental health. But today, I thought I would delve into the root to my own discontentment and explain the history of consumerism, as well as the problems that have emerged throughout the decades since the Great Depression.

Before I begin, here are some key terms you should become familiar with: Fast fashion. Throw-away society. Consumerism.

Here’s the Run Down

Consumerism is at an all-time high today and, frankly, you have something to do with it. Consumerism is not inherently bad. It’s what keeps our economy alive. Without it, our life as we know it would flatline. It is the excessive amounts of goods that our culture consumes that is causing a negative impact on your life, your health, and your environment–possibly without you even realizing it.

Consumerism is not capitalism nor is it consumption. It is, by definition, “a modern movement.” The word literally did not exist until the 1940s.

Here’s a short history lesson for ya: The Industrial Revolution overtook manpower and began clogging up the assembly line and overproduced more goods than people were buying. The economy crashed in 1929, aka The Great Depression. World War II began and gave rise to supply and demand beyond its capacity (but in a good way) and America began to recover from the economic downturn in 1940. Production lines were back at it and overproducing goods and undermining quality. Reason being: the lesser the quality and the cheaper the price, the more buyers will come back for more. Throw in some good advertising and a need for survival and there you have it. Enter: American consumerism.

And by the 1950s, it was thoroughly interwoven in the fabric of American society. (Read more here!)

Consumerism is basically the lifecycle of continual and unnecessary purchasing and tossing of over-produced goods. Think: the $5 shirts at Forever 21 that can be worn twice, fall apart, thrown out and re-purchased because they are so cheap. Think: the new iPhone that comes out every 2 years causing your previously purchased phone to become “outdated” and eventually unable to keep up with iOS updates.

What happens to that $5 Forever 21 shirt and iPhone when they get tossed?

They add to the second most polluting industry on earth. The retail manufacturing industry. To give you an idea of the impact, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded.

Fast Fashion

Buying into fashion is buying into big business. The global fashion industry is at $1.2 trillion with more than $250 billion spent in the U.S. alone. The fashion industry is not as glamorous as you think. More trends mean more purchases and, in turn, means more waste build up.

We buy things we think will improve our quality of life, and often even be better for the environment,” but really, we’re doing nothing to improve the quality of our lives and absolutely nothing to improve the environment. We’re buying into a rat race. An endless cycle of spending and tossing and searching to fill a void of sorts.

What Comes Next

I’m not here to picket outside your workplace or send hate mail to retailers. As Millenials, it’s our responsibility to know why we do what we do; it’s our responsibility to make effective and positive growth and change in the world.

Ask questions. Research where your clothes are made. Utilize second-hand shops. Repurpose things. Practice contentment.

As long as consumption is focused on satisfying basic human needs — safety, shelter, food, clothing, health care, education — it is not consumerism. But when, on attempts to satisfy these higher needs through the simple acquisition of goods and services, consumption turns into consumerism — and consumerism becomes a social disease.

-Amitai Etzioni (The Huffington Post – The Crisis of American Consumerism)