Jonesin’ for the Joneses

By Jaime Nava

I was reading a comic. It was something like Tales from the Darkside. Although the endings of these things could be a bit gruesome, there was also a dark comedy to it. One in particular is actually fitting. There is this couple, the Robinsons. The wife would watch down the street toward the neighbor’s place. They’d get new stuff delivered, like a couch or a huge TV. She had to have it. She makes her husband miserable with all the stuff she demanded. She would keep saying she wanted whatever Mrs. Jones got. They didn’t really have the money, but the husband kept buying these things while growing equally miserable with the stuff they kept getting. One day, the wife demands whatever it is that Mrs. Jones has. The husband looks out the window and grins.

He turns to his wife and chops her up. Turns out, Mr. Jones got tired of buying all these things for Mrs. Jones and made chop suey of her. Mr. Robinson provided the same for his own wife.

It’s a bit macabre, but, you know, it kinda fits. There was a time when 12 MB of ram, 500 MB hard drive, and a modem (dial up) was hot stuff. For comparison, computers with 8 GB of ram aren’t unheard of today. That’s 8,000 MB of ram. Hard drives now have 1 TB. That’s one million MB. How many gamers clamor for the better PC? It gets nuts. You need gaming headphones, a gaming mouse, and all kinds of nonsense.

Oh, are you raising your nose at gamers? We can talk about cars. We can talk about the TV you watch sports games on. We can talk about your obsession with working out (not you, the other guy obsessed with working out). What version iPhone do you have? Is it the newest? Whatever phone you have is going to be subpar soon, don’t worry. Your house will never be good enough. Sure, many of you might say you’re content, but there’s something else you want, something better. We’re like Mrs. Robinson. There’s always something better, newer, or more. We Americans gather and gather. We haven’t really left childhood. We work hard so we can play harder. Think about that. We work so we can play. Our life revolves around fun and that other stuff gets in the way. It’s necessary so that we can have more expensive fun because there’s always newer better fun to be had. Contentment? Pfft. We want more.

The end of the comic had Mrs. Robinson dying at the hands of the one who gathered all this crap for her. Of her couch and television, which could she take with her? Chasing after all this stuff is killing us. And when we get too old to have fun, we medicate or even put someone to sleep like an old dog. Suffering? Avoid it at all costs. Patience? Who needs it when I have credit? Spending time teaching our children from our catechism every day? Too busy. We have sports, school, band, and vacation. We have more important things to do with our time to prep our kids for a job so they can get better stuff. Pastor will do that when he’s old enough and we have time.

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We’re not spending time on the stuff that lasts. We’re chasing after a dream that is never realized. In the end, we die. I’m not saying we should live on the street with nothing. Don’t be stupid. That doesn’t help anyone. It is an exhortation to stop living for fun.

What should we do? First, have more kids. Talk to someone in the greatest generation and ask them how many siblings they had. Ask them how many kids were raised in the same bedroom. We think that we need a separate room for each kid. Ridiculous. Culture says that kids are too expensive. So is cable. One of these things is not like the other. The hoarded crap we gather is not as important as children. It’s sacrifice, sure, and I know we’ve been raised to really hate personal sacrifice unless I can post about it on Facebook, but this is what we need now more than ever. Next, teach your kids what we believe. That means you have to know what you believe. It’s not up to the pastor. It’s not up to the teachers. It’s you. Family teaches family first. Suck it up, and do it every day. For goodness sake, go to church, too. Your attendance also teaches what you believe. What would get in the way of having medicine that gave you eternal youth? But soccer is so important, right? When we rear as many children as God provides and teach them, we are countercultural to a society of fun and death. Instead, we become a family of life on the physical and spiritual level. This is the stuff that outlasts anything you can buy from Amazon or the Apple Store.

You don’t have to bother with what I’ve been saying this whole time. You can live a life looking for better stuff, sure. Just remember that when you’re alone in the nursing home with a daughter in Texas who loves Joel Osteen and an agnostic son in Minnesota.

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