Dear Pope Francis,
A couple of things have coalesced into today’s blog post. As I wrote yesterday, I’m focusing on waiting this Advent. Waiting and noticing. I think walking with my nephew last week brought me back to just how much I miss during my revved up days. They can become pretty mindless if I’m not careful.
I think it’s an inherent risk in our culture. We’re bombarded with messages to ignore what’s really going on and just buy more stuff. We’ve just come through one of the biggest retail sales periods of the year — Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Not exactly a great kick-off to a time of waiting and noticing. But it happens because there’s money to be made when we’re mindless and consuming.
Which is why I think the story that had everyone talking today is so emblematic of our culture. Last night, “60 Minutes” aired a piece on Jeff Bezos and his company Amazon. I didn’t watch, but have heard enough about the story to piece things together. It apparently focused on Amazon’s efficiency and amazing ability to get stuff to the people who want it. During the piece, Bezos announced that Amazon was testing robotic drones to deliver packages to people within 30 minutes. That set off quite a stir. It was all you read about on social media today.
Jeff Bezos is a master at selling things to us. When he founded Amazon, people mocked the concept. Buy books online? Really? When there’s all those local bookstores? We all know how that has turned out. Amazon is now a huge seller of books — and many, many other things. It’s become one of the largest, if not the largest, retailers in the world. You have to hand it to Bezos. He understands people and how to sell to them.
And don’t get me wrong. I’m an Amazon user. I have been since its inception. I love the convenience and choice. I now read most everything on my Amazon Kindle. I’ve bought in. I don’t like to admit it, but I have. I also have to confess that if Amazon Droid becomes available in my area, I’d give it a whirl. The novelty factor alone would drive me to try it at least once. I’m only human.
But, that’s just it. We humans have put so much energy, creativity and resources into being able to have exactly what we want delivered to us as quickly as possible, that it’s staggering. And I can’t help but wonder, as I ponder this, if we couldn’t solve many of our global problems if we directed even a quarter of that energy, creativity, and resources into solving them.
Then again, there’s probably not a lot of money to be made in ending poverty, hunger, or ecological destruction. In fact, the opposite is likely true.
But maybe, out there, is a Jeff Bezos type — or a few of them — with the qualities and drive to make real change.
I’d love to see that — even more than an Amazon Drone dropping a package on my porch.
P.S. I’m not sure if Mike Wallace were around that he’d have sanctioned what amounted to an ad for Amazon on “60 Minutes”. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think the piece was at all critical of Amazon, or some of its practices, particularly with respect to its workers. Again, I’m an Amazon customer, so I can’t throw stones here, too much. But things like this trouble me.