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VALUING THRIFT METHODIST MESSAGE, AUGUST 2010

WORD FROM THE EDITOR

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING THRIFTILY has traditionally been inculcated from young. Living within one’s means was always considered a virtue. However, in an era of easy credit, the proliferation of credit cards which encourages one to spend first and repay later, and the urge to spend on as many attractive items on offer at the “sales”, thrift is becoming a rare virtue. Sometimes, it is suggested that by spending at these sales, one can actually “save” money. In fact, to bring up the subject is itself like spoiling the party. Worse, it seems counter to the notion that the economy would suffer if people did not “consume” sufficiently.

And yet, being careful in the way we consume our resources is being wise when we realise that the world has been using raw materials like fossil fuels and minerals, such that they are being rapidly exhausted. Worse, their unrestricted use has made a considerable negative impact on the environment. And who would doubt the causes of climate change, going by extraordinary weather patterns all over the world? Prolonged drought, coupled with destructively severe storms, may be only the merest hint of how wasteful habits have impacted the environment.

Related to the use of scarce resources is the very human tendency, evident
in the economically better off world, to consume as much food as possible, often in bizarre ways. A recent comment by a high-ranking US official calling it a “food carnival”, resulting in serious health issues like obesity, is something to think about. There are even “eating competitions” where young men compete with each other to eat the largest amount of hot dogs, hamburgers or other foods in the shortest possible time. Apart from paying a penalty for their questionable “achievements”, there is also an ethical issue – of wasteful consumption in a world where millions are starving.

The time has come to turn our attention to our wasteful habits and regard what all economists consider a truism – that resources are finite and should be carefully husbanded: in a word, to practise a thrifty lifestyle. We need to partake of the bounty of God’s world with greater care and self-control. Therein lies the responsibility of the individual who has been given the power to choose.

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