I often think about, ‘How do we return to a simpler way of living? Is there some way that we can start to think of each other as human beings again, instead of worshiping money, instead of worshiping electronics, instead of worshiping getting ahead just for me?” – Giancarlo Esposito
Henry Ford, was an industrialist, and founder of the Ford Motor Company. He is perhaps best known for his refinement of the assembly line technique of mass production. Ford helped to revolutionize transportation by making the automobile more affordable to the masses. In 1909, he decided to reduce the number of model choices his company offered the motoring public. In his autobiography, My Life and Work, Mr. Ford wrote:
” …I announced one morning, without any previous warning, that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model was going to be the “Model T,” and that the chassis would be exactly the same for all cars. I cannot say that any one agreed with me.” (1)
Ford was looking to simplify his business. He would now offer only one model available in four different body styles: a town car, a roadster, a coupe, and a landaulet. Ford also remarked:
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” (1)
I love it! Mr. Ford liked to keep it simple so he narrowed the choices. Let’s talk about choices and the simple life.
When people have too many choices, they make bad choices.” – Thom Browne
Have you visited a new car showroom lately? It can take hours just to pick a color, let alone choose from all of the available options. I’ve seen families spend weeks trying to decide what style and model of car to buy. It has become such an ordeal that some people may soon need counseling to get through the experience.
What about choosing a telephone? When I was growing up we got to pick from one model – The Western Electric 500 series. It was available in a few styles; the two most prominent were the table top and the wall mounted versions. This nifty little rotary dial gadget reigned supreme in the homes of North America from 1950 through 1984
With the introduction of touch-tone service, the trusty old 500 series was refit with a push-button keypad. First a 10 button model was introduced in 1963 followed by the 12 button model we know today in 1968. And get this, you didn’t own it! That’s right. You rented the phone for a monthly fee. Even worse – everyone in the household used the same phone and it was attached to the wall by a wire! Oh the pain, the pain of it all.
Today, choosing a phone can be more nerve racking than a broken front tooth the day before your wedding. Right now, there are no less than 103 different cell phone brands available. Collectively, they offer multiplied thousands of models.
Let’s not forget all the monthly “plans” and the associated need to decide which one is right for you. Will you choose the family and friends plan, or maybe the neighbor and coworker package, or perhaps the friends, Romans and countrymen plan? (Okay, they don’t have that last one).
Fear not, when you finally settle on the combination of data, text messaging and who you can call, when you can call and how many minutes you can talk – surprise – that plan will be phased out.
I did the best I could, and in some arenas, my best was not good enough. I’ve made some bad choices.” – Amy Grant
Have you ever sat down and tried to choose a family vacation destination or even just a place for the whole family to dine out? In my household we must approach this task delicately – and unarmed – or we’d all be on death row by now. There are too many “options”, making a group consensus nearly impossible.
Everywhere you turn – decisions that involve multiple choices await you. Like grocery stores. Forget about it, there are dozens of selections for just about any single item you want to buy.
What about appliance centers? I want a refrigerator. Who knew they made hundreds of different models? They’ve got ones that practically grow and process the food.
Look at all the furniture outlets. No wonder they have a going out of business sale every two weeks, there are not enough people alive on earth to purchase all that stuff. I saw a man sleeping on one of the sofas at the local mega-décor store. I believe he collapsed from exhaustion just trying to see everything.
And, let’s not bring up clothing. Some people are ready to convert the garage into a walk-in closet and that’s just for their shoes. It already takes them over an hour to pick out a shirt. Soon they will be unable to make that choice as well. Probably join a nudist colony – hey, no clothing decisions there.
I now understand why so many people are walking around malls and other shopping centers murmuring in a semi coherent state. They can’t decide on anything. Better to just keep wandering, texting and hoping for the best.
Okay, I’ll cut the drama now. There is a point here. Choice overload is very real.
Alvin Toffler, the writer, futurist and former associate editor of Fortune magazine wrote, “Over-choice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of a buyer’s decision-making process.” (2) To put that in simple terms – when you have too much to choose from you can become confused and overwhelmed to the point that you cannot make a decision at all. And often, you don’t. Or, you make poor choices.
For years we’ve heard the clarion calls of culture declare “more is better” or “he who dies with the most toys wins!” Bunkum!
Unfortunately, some of our poor choices are irreversible, but many are not. Often, we can change course and get back on the right track.” – James E. Faust
The man from Galilee had it right nearly 2000 years ago,
15 Then Jesus said to them all, “Watch yourselves! Keep from wanting all kinds of things you should not have. A man’s life is not made up of things, even if he has many riches.” (Luke 12:15 NLV)
36 “And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? 37 For is anything worth more than his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 TLB)
What is your peace of mind (soul) worth? Will you continue to sacrifice your soul for the latest cell phone, more money, a newer car, boat, or house? To lead a better life, we need to rediscover the simple life. The pressure to accumulate what you really do not need or to climb to new heights where you really do not belong can kill you. No, I take that back, if you are empty inside, you are already dead.
When Jesus visited our planet, people were busy doing all the same things people do today – buying, selling, accumulating, lying, cheating, stealing, and pretending there is no God. Politicians were duping the public and raping the treasury. Need I continue? Jesus walked onto the stage of humanity and in the midst of all the noise and confusion he issued an invitation,
28 “Come to me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Follow my teachings and learn from me. I am gentle and do not have pride. You will have rest for your souls. 30 For My way of carrying a load is easy and my load is not heavy.” (Matthew 11:28-3 NLV)
The choice here is simple. No confusion. No overload. Choose his way and gain a timeless life, filled with inner joy and peace. Or just keep doing things your way. It’s your life, your decision, but I do hope you choose wisely.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got my toes in the water and my … well, you know the rest. Life is good today.
My Father in Heaven, please help my friends to find rest. Show them how to slow down and how to avoid the overload of too many choices. To shed the weight they carry and find forgiveness and a new life in Jesus. Thank you my God. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656
- (1) From My Life and Work by Henry Ford, Samuel Crowther, Copyright, 1912 by Doubleday, Page & Company. Pages 71, 72
- (2) From Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1971