If we were to-morrow morning snowed up in the street in which we live, we should step suddenly into a much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known. And it is the whole effort of the typically modern person to escape from the street in which he lives.
Heretics, by G.K. Chesterton
Not long after reading this quote, I saw the following commercial for the Travel Channel.
One success of advertising is the ability to transport consumers into other worlds. From shinier hair to roomier houses to happier friendships, we're willing to buy the promises offered because they do, indeed, appear to improve our current situation. We are not, conversely, willing to buy downward. It just isn't normal.
Likewise with traveling. In this particular commercial, the Travel Channel (Well, the folks from David&Goliath) encourages us to escape the mundane; to broaden our world by going to far-away places and interacting with strange people and customs. Yet Chesterton argues that "if what [a man] wants is people different from himself, he had much better stop at home and discuss religion with the housemaid."
Personally, I'm a fan of travel. I believe it's important to go somewhere new and exciting and uncomfortable if you have the chance. But I'm also convicted by the call to know and love my neighbor next door. Might advertisers play a role in strengthening this conviction?
Bear with me on the length of this excerpt. It's a good one and will help make my point.
We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain. He is Man, the most terrible of the beasts. That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one's duty towards humanity, but one's duty towards one's neighbour. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation. We may work in the East End because we are peculiarly fitted to work in the East End, or because we think we are; we may fight for the cause of international peace because we are very fond of fighting. The most monstrous martyrdom, the most repulsive experience, may be the result of choice or a kind of taste.... But we have to love our neighbour because he is there--a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation.
Those who wish, rightly or wrongly, to step out of all this, do definitely wish to step into a narrower world.... [A]nything is bad and artificial which tends to make these people succumb to the strange delusion that they are stepping into a world which is actually larger and more varied than their own. The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.
Could an agency like David&Goliath, which prides itself on bravery, dare people to do the mundane? To buy downward for the thrill of it? To go next door and discover a "much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known"?
How would D&G endorse this radical perspective? By Chesterton's account, with a great amount of bravery. I'll add creativity, too. It would take nothing short of an advertising genius to move us into a snow globe with each other instead of onto an exotic safari with friends.
Something to ponder: What products or services might assist such a genius?