Liking Counterfeits

Ever wonder why we like counterfeits? What about why we even accept counterfeits?

I do. Sometimes.

Look closely at my shirt below. See anything wrong?

The brand is not Polo by Bolo.

Many, many years ago, when I was a student at the University of Chicago, our Christian fellowship had invited a guest speaker to talk. I remember this speaker was not much older than us; he was in his mid to late twenties then. Of course now, the difference is not much but he seemed so much more mature. I think his name is Brad; let’s go with that for this story. Brad opened with a story about the first time he went to New York City and the first thing he wanted to buy was a Gucci watch. Not just any Gucci watch. He wanted a fake one. That’s right, a fake one. Why? Just so he could say he bought a fake Gucci in NYC and imitate the experience of being “ripped off.”

Don’t get me wrong. Some street vendors are hard working, honest men and women. They have all the right government licenses to sell their goods. True, you might have to pay “downtown” prices, but otherwise they are legitimate. And the others – as the old saying goes, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

The first time I went to China in 2007, my dad showed me a few fake bills so that I would not get duped. A few years later, my dad used his connections so we could see the Hong Kong mint where I could see how they are making the new $10 HKD bills and the security countermeasures.

Beside counterfeit money and watches, there are plenty of other counterfeits that we want. What about organizations?

When it comes to organizations, we all want to belong to something greater, something that unites us for a higher purpose. There are many great organizations, and there are just as many that are criminal, corrupt, immoral, or just a downright bad idea. Yet we are drawn to them. Why is that?

In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldridge highlighted three counterfeits that men go after: a counterfeit battle, a counterfeit beauty, and a counterfeit adventure. These things are much, much more important than fake Guccis, fake Polo shirts, or fake money.

I won’t go into all of the things Eldridge talks about for each of them, but at the heart of the matter is that even the best things we desire have been corrupted by sin. That is not a popular topic, but we have to admit the truth.

We have to admit the truth that sin has created the counterfeits.

We have to admit the truth that somewhere in our hearts, we would rather have the cheap imitation than pay the costs for the real thing. Brad bought the fake Gucci and laughed it off as the NYC experience. However, at the end of the day, if he could, he would have bought a real thing.

We have to admit the unpleasant truth that we would rather fight our battles in the boardroom (or bedroom) or the golf course, than fight for what really matters: our wives and children. The real things in life will cost us and certainly are worth the cost.

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