A religious sister tells us of her childhood visits to a close relative who later became an actor. Those visits, she recalls, were fun-filled times.
years later after he had become a famous actor the connection with
family and relatives ended. When he married, all the entertainment
celebrities were there, but the family was not. His family,
understandably, was upset, but they ceased seeing him as part of the
family, she said. He was now seen more as 'capital' (a source for
to the sister, capital should not only be seen as money but as
contacts, capabilities, qualifications, trust, power, prestige, honor,
attention and the like. When one of these begins to increase, the others
also increase. These activities and states of mind are all capital,
according to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who considered
cultural and social activities and values as capital in much the same
way as we view economic capital. Both influence society and have their
affect on our tastes and lifestyles.
The actor, once he became
successful, began to amass wealth, contacts and honors, which allowed
him to have some influence in society and to live in an area were the
elite of society congregate. He was no longer the person, the sister
said, that lived with his family and related with others. Which prompted
her to ask herself the questions: Who am I? What do I consume? Both
questions, she suggests, have similar answers. Our tastes and our
ability to discern truth from error, she believes, may often depend on the things we possess and consume, which then give rise to our values and world view.
mentions a number of scholars who have described most of us as having turned ourselves into commodities being sold in the
various markets of society. Our success then becomes dependent on how successful we are
in marketing ourselves. Are we concerned, she asks, on exactly how to package
ourselves to more easily sell ourselves? The social networking world especially, she is suggesting, have turned their members into capital--selling them to advertisers, for a price.
the principle problem that lies behind this use of the consumer, as she
sees it, is that the person I am, that God has made me to be becomes changed and distorted by what we possess and consume.
Using a line picked up from a poet that "we are all originals and we die
copies," she urges us not to catch the 'desire for riches disease', and
succumb to the mass hypnosis of society and lose who we are.
who am I? Really? What is my identity? How do other people see me?
God made me according to his image. He wanted us to
cultivate and take care of this earth. And sister hopes that we will
always keep this identity we have been given. Each of us is an original
and should not give it up for any copy, no matter how temporarily
alluring and economically profitable it may be.