Monday, November 21, 2011
Lord Jonathan Sacks said that commercial advertising has made consumers only aware of what they don't own, rather than being thankful for what they have.
Speaking last week at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen, the Chief Rabbi singled out Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, for criticism over his helping to create this culture of selfishness and unhappiness.
Lord Sacks likened the iPhone and iPad products created by Jobs to the tablets of stone bearing the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, saying that these electronic devices have delivered the new "values" of consumer society.
"People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren't ones you can live by for terribly long," The Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying.
"The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i. When you're an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about 'I', you don't do terribly well."
In a stinging criticism of personal materialism, Lord Sacks hit out at the "subtly seductive approaches" of advertising, saying that this is the "most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness".
"What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don't have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have," he said.
"If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you've got an iPhone but you haven't got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness."
The Chief Rabbi is among the first high-profile people to really criticize Jobs's legacy since the technology leader died last month from pancreatic cancer.
He said that the Jewish day of rest, the Shabbat, is a time when people discover matters of faith rather than spend money in shops on consumer goods.
"The answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can't shop and you can't spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family," said Lord Sacks.
"Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier."