In the film The True Cost, Tim Kasser, a PhD in Psychology at Knox College states that hundreds of studies over the last twenty years bear out that “psychological problems (like depression, anxiety) tend to go up as materialistic values go up.” (33:28). He quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. at the close of the film who said that America “needed a revolution of values, needed to stop treating people like things.” Throughout the film there were vignettes from across the globe that showed how we’ve also done the opposite, treated corporations and profits with more dignity and honor than living, breathing human beings. This is why greed is a sin- it hurts our neighbor, and it hurts us.
Materialism and greed can seem so innocuous, but the consumerism we are accustomed to is like asbestos in the structure of our society and soul. This silent danger has reduced the livelihood of thousands of families in vulnerable places across the globe, but prolonged exposure will slowly steal our joy as well. It is already quite literally killing hundreds of thousands of workers in cotton fields and clothing factories globally.
Vandana Shiva is an environmental activist that summarizes the problem perfectly “For them (the seed/chemical company) it’s win, win, win, win win. For nature and people it’s lose, lose, lose, lose, lose.(32:05)” The farmers go into debt because the seed prices have gone up 17,000%, and when they can not pay the company their farm is seized. Losing their livelihood, they commit suicide by drinking the pesticides in the fields. There have been 250,000 farmer suicides in India in the last 16 years. That’s one farmer every 30 minutes, and the largest recorded wave of suicide in history.
There’s no such thing as a cheap hamburger if you’re a cow. And we’re all cattle to the corporations that place profits over people.