We live in a world where our entire lives, almost everywhere, are totally invaded by advertising. It’s not yet in the underground caves explored by speleologists or on the sides of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa or Mount Everest (but who knows if it will not be there when I attempt to climb Mount Everest for the 37th time?)
I grew up in a world where advertising was quasi inexistant. My first ten years were spent in England just before, during and after the war and I came to my native Switzerland when I was ten. Advertising started timidly appearing in the daily newspapers and later on billboards, and then with the fifties and especially sixties things picked up and it’s now everywhere. My dentist does not yet project ads while I’m in the dental chair, but who knows what will happen during my next visit to him?
When I was in my early twenties I read two books by American writer Vance Packard, which were among the most influential books in my life, The Hidden Persuaders, on the mechanisms of advertising, and The Waste Makers, on our throw away, hyper-consumption societies.
In the Geneva buses where I live there are ads running the whole time and you can’t miss them. So, I often sit right at the front of the bus where there are seats facing away from the ads and, instead of having my eyes glued to the TV spots, I quietly bless the passengers. It sure helps me to stay centered and I’m certain it doesn’t harm them.
How we think, ultimately, depends on us. There are two statements that run my life (and I will write a later blog just on these). One is: “All things work together for those who love life” and especially: “Bring every single thought captive to the obedience of love.” I have lived with these two statements for years now, and my life is like a river flowing quietly and a deep peace its main undercurrent.
I have chosen not to have TV, so no ads invade the peace of my home. No one steals my attention. I am entirely responsible for my life because I choose to be. You too can make similar choices.
And I don’t need TV, now that we are being bombarded by Christmas ads, to remind me that the most precious presents we can make – at Christmas and the whole year around – are the gifts of our deep compassion, of our authentic caring, unselfed love, our profound listening and so many other qualities that anyone can manifest, however poor or handicapped or sad they maybe.
Pierre Pradervand, December 2022