I went to the U2 Joshua Tree 2017 concert in Vancouver on Friday night. Not because I wanted to, but Jason had never been able to get tickets in his younger years and always had a burning desire to see them perform live. Supportive wife that I am, I agreed to go with him for a birthday present.
From what I’ve read, this tour is a scaled-down show for U2 compared to some of their previous tours, but I found it overwhelmingly high-tech, expensive and over the top when it came to lights, screens and effects (admittedly, I attended Christian concerts in my youth with the likes of Michael W. Smith, Steve Green and Amy Grant so I’m not a connoisseur of rock music and I’m a true Granny at heart when it comes to noise and spectacle).
As a culture, we seem to crave endless entertainment. But when is it enough? If we are constantly searching for bigger, louder, more impressive and expensive, when does this thirst ever get quenched? And at what point do we decide it’s too much and now we want something simpler, deeper, more accessible to everyone instead of just those at the top of the economic structure?
My journey into minimalism has radically shifted my perspective on what I’m willing to spend time and money on. I question everything now, which I think is good and healthy (albeit awkward and often tense at parties or functions when I start to rail on about my theories).
When Jason and I discussed this on the way home from the concert, he said, “This live performance is also a unique experience that we’ll have forever. That’s part of what we’re paying for.” I agree with this, in theory, but I still question the cost, both financially and morally, of investing in something so big and loud and insanely expensive for what amounts to ninety minutes of entertainment.
Excess is killing us. Flash and dash does not satisfy long term. I want to invest in depth and substance, something that moves the needle of love, mercy and justice toward the oppressed instead of focusing on my own nostalgia and appetite for entertainment.
Is it wrong to go see U2 in concert? Of course not. But I think it’s okay to admit that I have conflicted feelings about being part of something that costs millions when the world is in such desperate need of water, food, safety, equal rights, environmental conservation and peace (to name just a few of our global issues). These things matter more than my desire to be wowed at any cost.
I don’t know what the answer is here. I wish I did. All I know is that my heart hurts for the intolerance and simmering rage I observe in our society right now. We need to think bigger in terms of solutions and hope for everyone, not just a select few. I want to go beyond consumption, entertainment and individual excess. I long to see what we can do together for the poor, the broken, the marginalized, the sick. Less of what I need, more of what we need.
But how? This is the question I’m desperate to answer.