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A Strong Voice Against Materialism

November 29, 1990

Since I first saw your (Joseph Bell's) columns in the L.A. Times about four years ago, I've said to myself that I wanted to write, but being the world-class procrastinator and disorganized mother of two kids that I am, I'm only now getting around to it. It's actually better that I've waited this long because now I have even more admiration for the fresh (and necessary) counterpoint you offer the rest of us minority free thinkers here in the bastion of Western Conservatism.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for your column on the movie (and the fundamentalist knee-jerk reaction to it), "The Last Temptation of Christ." Your column gave me the courage to stand up to the Christian "religionists"--thanks for a very apt label--who tell us that if our relationship to God doesn't please them, it can't possibly be acceptable to Him. It cost me a "friend," but it set me back on a spiritual path I had left years ago.

Thank you for your column on the importance of teaching discernment. It's so easy to fall into the trap of answering when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife-type questions without seeing them for what they are, and in this time of dangerously narrowing focus, you help by continuing to remind us of the broader context and background we all fit into.

Thank you for your column on the rip-off valet parking at local restaurants. Granted, compared to some of the other issues you've tackled, this one really didn't loom that important on the social awareness scale, but it did address that disturbing, all-pervasive materialistic mentality that is now the hallmark of Orange County.

I remember as a child hearing my staunchly Republican parents being both scornful of and disturbed by those in our society who seemed to feel automatically entitled to "their share," but now that sense of getting what you can from whatever situation is at hand, never mind who it leaves impoverished in the process, seems to be the prevailing "OK" attitude.

Thanks especially for your recent column about the Irvine shoeshine man who takes food to homeless people. What a wonderful lift it is to know people who go out and do things to make some of the misery and hurt better, and what a lesson about the good that just one person can do.

Thanks for today's (Nov. 13) piece about how we tsk-tsk and are scandalized by people who are on welfare while we admire the societal manipulators who cause millions and billions of dollars worth of damage to everyone by working "the system" to their own advantage. These are the same people whose attitude of unbridled greed is emulated by the upper crust of Orange County.

What's happened to us? I was born here, so was my father and his father before him, and although I saw the progression from agriculture to our present mix of land development (and they call it 'progress'!), industry and business, I didn't see when our values changed so much.

I could go on, but the purpose of this letter was to tell you how much I appreciate and admire your ideas and your column, not write one of my own, although reading yours sure makes me want to!



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