Among the 5 subjects I am taking now, I must say the two eye opening ones are marketing and anthropology. Even though for the latter I admit I (like probably three quarters of the students) still have no clue what in the world is going on sometimes.
They both really have an influence on the way I see the world, and both are increasingly helping me to understand capitalism, globalisation and economic power better. Globalisation has always been talked about as such a good thing, but in anthropology I am learning about economic imperalism and its effects on cultures. A subtle kind of colonisation.
I am learning how much of our lives really are influenced by firms, even in ways we never thought of. I have always been aware of De Beers and their marketing program, which made diamonds perceived as the symbol of love, even though such a symbol never existed a hundred years ago. Was never a fan of it and even tried to be the rebel who wouldn't subscribe to a company's marketing program. Increasingly though, I realise it would be a failure on my part to only notice De Beers and not notice all the other things around me. There is cultural colonisation by economic forces as I mentioned, and more. Fetishism of commodities is another thing that really struck me.
Cultures today really are influenced in a big way by marketing programs of many firms. We can't run away from it, and it would be foolishness to try to rebel against De Beers, but not recognise that there is something behind it all. This spirit of capitalism, which is so normal to us today and even seen as a force of good, it is really much more complex than that. I used to think Karl Marx was 'that communist dude', but now I realise that he was an idealist who saw that there was something very wrong with the world.
I am still learning, and like I said the anthropology class often befuddles me more than it enlightens. Yet, I see glimpses of things I have never seen in such an angle before. I think if I were really to fully dive into the study of anthropology, there would be quite a paradigm shift in my mind, and I would see the world very differently from how I do now.
In this time, I happen to be reading The Weight of Glory by Lewis as well. Together, these things make me ponder about what I know of our life here on this earth, how much I think I understand about the machinations of this world, and the recognition that I really don't.
I do know this though: We all are already caught up in it. We can't pretend that we aren't. The entire system of money, work, career, exchange of commodities (and economics is just one part of the world though admittedly a big one), all these are inescapable things in our life and we should be a hermit if we desire to be away from it. Still, we need to recognise the state of the world and not buy into its lies, to recognise that at the end of the day it is people that matters. We can accept money as a functional necessity in the way the world works now, but we mustn't buy into its lies.
(I don't even mean things like the love of money is the root of all evil, all those are obvious, we already know them. There are much more subtle things like, what is your value? How do you measure a person's worth? Some of these things as Christians we already know, but we speak of it as something that is 'Christians are different the world'. I just find it so unexpected to see it being discussed on an intellectual level, looked into deeper than how we often regard the issue.)
Cultures change, societal values change, the world changes in big ways all the time, Through it all, we must recognise then that only one thing is constant, and that is God. Live in the world, but live as pilgrims. Be part of the system, but not subject to it. There is only one Lord and that is Jesus.