China’s Four Big Things, and Ours

Many families in China still own one meager pile of things that easily fits into a single photo. Could you pile everything you own, fitting it into one photograph? Or like most of us in the First World, would it take a photo album for your mountains of stuff?

But according to Angus Foster’s article on BBC News Magazine, this is a vanishing lifestyle and mentality. This article’s fascinating photo documentation by Huang Quingun shows the progression Chinese society is making in well-being and materialism.

China’s four big things.

Angus Foster reported that in the 1950’s newly married couples in China dreamed of owning a sewing machine, a bike, a watch, and a radio. By the 1980’s the four big things had become: a TV, a washing machine, a rice cooker, and a fridge.

And now, it seems many just yearn for the latest thing, or newest fashion.

Enormous social and economic change has come to China in just one generation. And we believe this is good, because fewer people live in dire poverty. Better modes of transport aren’t bad. And we would never begrudge anyone more convenient cooking and laundry methods.

But Huang Qingjun’s photos made us wonder just how far the Third World will go in their quest for The Good Life. Will they follow the path of the First World, where things sometimes become more important than people? More important than good, ethical practices and social responsibility? How many of the positive aspects of their simple lives will they leave behind?

But more importantly, what place does stuff have in our lives?

Are we willing to spend more, if it means ethically produced goods? Or to shop less, in lieu of supporting children in poor nations?

We believe these things are more important. And that’s why we decided we also want four big things. But particular things. Which, to us, seem worth pursuing. Worth yearning after.

Our four big things:

  • A giving heart.
  • An active conscience.
  • Eyes to see.
  • And hands that reach out to help.

Because people are more important than things. And because these Four Big Things may not fit in a photograph, but they’re not a burden to carry around!

Could Your stuff fit into one photo? Or would it take a stack of photo albums?

And does your stuff really bring you happiness?

[Image ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

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