The Price Of Luxury

There's a car commercial that's been driving me nuts lately. Here's the script:

You wake up in your luxury bed and slide out of your luxury sheets. You get into your luxury shower and dry off with your luxury towel. You put on your luxury suit and your luxury watch. You grab your luxury coffee from your luxury coffee maker and add some luxury sugar. You step out of your luxury house and step into your luxury car…which makes everything else seem ordinary. Introducing the Acura RLX...

It's amazing to me that any ad agency was able to talk a client into producing this spot, and than any client was shallow enough to do so. I'm sure all the market research pointed to the fact that their target market loves luxury, but at what point do you say, "You know what? We're not going to give them what they want. We're going to appeal to the better angels of their nature. We're going to be that kind of car company."?

Maybe this commercial sticks out to me because of its similarity to an example I heard Donald Miller use recently. He suggested that we imagine our lives like a movie. We get to decide what kind of movie we want to make. Now imagine that our greatest ambition is to buy a nice car, retire early, and go snorkeling. Imagine watching a movie where that's the climax. The hero drives off the lot in his new Acura and the credits roll. Does that story move you? Does that story matter? Is anyone in the audience touched by that story?


But we let ourselves believe that a little more luxury will bring us a better story. Instead, it just brings us a comfortable chair in which to live out terrible stories.

I know wealth is relative. I realize that I am more wealthy than 90 percent of the people on the planet. I'm writing this post on a $2,000 computer, for heaven's sake! So I see the potential for hypocrisy in decrying someone else's love of luxury. But I can't help but at least mention it, because I think our luxury is robbing us blind.

Our family supports a little girl named Sabrina in Tanzania through Compassion International. Here's what I keep hearing when I watch that Acura spot:

Sabrina wakes up in her dirty bed on the dirty floor of her dirty hut. She walks dirty streets to her dirty school. After school, she plays with her dirty doll. Then she washes down dinner with dirty water and flashes a smile at her grandmother framed by dirty cheeks.

The question is: which story is better? The Acura story or Sabrina's? And the surprising answer is: neither. Both are rife with poverty. Both are ruining lives. As World Vision President Wess Stafford likes to say, "The opposite of poverty isn't wealth. The opposite of poverty is 'enough'."

Ryan SandersComment