By Pettus L. Read
Director of Communications for Tennessee Farm Bureau
While walking through one of our fine shopping malls last weekend, I made some interesting observations on what has become of America, along with developing a few opinions that would best be left alone. However, I’m sure much of the things that came to the mind of this rural philosopher have also popped up in a few of your cranial cavities as well.
I noticed the usual things about the people I saw there, such as: ages, nationalities, family numbers and general appearance. I saw well-dressed folks, strangely dressed folks, folks who cared less what I thought, and some folks who should have known better. But, the thing that caught my attention the most was how accustomed we all have become to spending. I keep hearing about hard times these days, but on this weekend of visiting this particular shopping area everyone seemed to be carrying sacks of recently purchased items.
I still have the country training of spending only if you just have to. If it were not for the training over the years from my wonderful wife, I would have been among those that day that would have been considered strangely dressed. If she had not been one of those individuals who often said, “Your not wearing that are you?” and threw away articles of clothing that often resembled car wash rejects, I would be a mother’s nightmare on how not to be found in an accident by the condition of my socks and unmentionables. Not that they may be unclean, but more so pretty shop worn. If the elastic is still good, then there is no reason to buy new ones, that is my motto.
The question that kept going through my mind was just how many pairs of sneakers and smart phones does a person really need? On every corner of that mall was a cell phone store and tennis shoe shop. That observation alone tells you who the market is selling to on Saturday afternoon shopping sprees. In fact, that mall was full of those under 20 years of age and the majority of them were carrying a sack of some type. I guess we have become a society and nation that sees the malls and shopping as our favorite pastime activity.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy “goin’ looken” every now and then, as well as helping the economy whenever I need something, but surely there is more to life than spending the weekend at the mall. In fact, the only reason I was at that mall on a Saturday was because it was raining and my elastic had finally broke, causing me to need something. That’s enough information for this story.
A friend of mine told me the other day about going shopping with his wife. He said he left her in a store at one of the local malls for just fifteen minutes while he went to get a cold drink. When he returned, she was at the checkout counter with enough stuff to fill two railroad freight cars.
After getting over the shock, he asked her, “Are you going to buy all of this stuff?”
As she signed the credit card ticket, she answered him while pointing at the rest of the store, “Sure I am! But just look at what all I left behind.”
The Progressive Farmer magazine recently printed a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that said, “Americanism means virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood: the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
That statement made by then 26th President Roosevelt, in 1904, could have some very true meaning for us today. We do enjoy our soft living, prosperity, and get-rich-quick theory of life. I just hope we realize that what we do enjoy on our Saturdays and weekends in this country came at a very costly price and finding a sale item at the mall was not it.
Enjoy the malls, but also take time to enjoy the simple things of life, your families and the freedoms we have been given as Americans. Holding on to a few more washings of old elastic, rather than going out to buy something new just to be doing something on a Saturday, might not hurt you either.
– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org