Thursday, November 26, 2009

TechnoSanity #35: Buy Nothing Day

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It's thanksgiving day, 2009. I am thankful for my life, the work I'm doing, the ability to speak the message which I have to share.

Today is supposed to be a moment of being thankful, grateful for the bounty of our lives. Of course gratefulness is a practice for every day, not just one day a year, but it's helpful to have the reminder of gratefulness due to the day for giving thanks. But, wait, is this what most of thanksgiving celebrations are about? Is the orgy of football games a practice of gratefulness? Is the orgy of eating a practice of gratefulness? Well, okay, maybe that one is, or at least can be. Is the orgy of shopping on the day after, commonly called Black Friday, a practice of gratefulness?

Black Friday is supposed to be the official start of the Christmas Season. It's commonly the day a guy dressed as Santa lights the Christmas Tree, and there is the Thanksgiving Day Parades led by guys dressed as Santa. Sure it makes sense to have a ceremony to launch a period of other ceremonies leading up to a major celebration. But, just what part of Christs story does Santa come from? Just what part of Christs story do Christmas trees come from? And most importantly just what part of Christs story implies we should shop til we drop and engage in an orgy of consumption?

Buy Nothing Day is organized by Adbusters. It is observed on the day following Thanksgiving, the day commonly known as Black Friday, and the idea is to engage in activities other than shopping. Part of the message of Buy Nothing Day is the above points and others I'll be making below. I believe the purpose Adbusters has in mind behind Buy Nothing Day is to interrupt the practice of overconsumption tied into Black Friday and the way Christmas is currently practiced in the prevailing paradigm.

There are a lot of videos on youtube about Buy Nothing Day, just search for them. Some are linked below.

Buy Nothing Day is important to me for several reasons. One is the subversion or destruction of the real meaning of Christmas discussed above. Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of a great spiritual teacher, and it is supposed to be symbolic of the awakening within us of attributes taught by that spiritual teacher (Jesus Christ). But think about how Christmas is celebrated and the common symbols. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus, the Nutcracker, Good King Wenceslaus, the Christmas tree, candy canes, elves, the orgy of presents bought and gifted, and on and on. None of this has a single thing to do with celebrating the birth of this great spiritual teacher. Not a thing.

Still, those things are the focus of most activities related to Christmas. And it is Black Friday which starts off the orgy of buying.

Another reason BND is important has to do with the ecological impact of the economics of this orgy of buying. Our Capitalistic system is driven by Consumerism. You hear it pretty plainly in the news if you care to listen. They talk about "Consumer Confidence" which is gobbledygook for measuring how much people are spending. The more we spend the more confident we are, supposedly. The news during Christmas season is full of analysis over how much we spend, and it is Christmas spending that keeps the economy going.

What this means is that rates of consumption drive rates of economic activity which drive rates of production which drives rates of mining resources to build this stuff. Often it's stuff that isn't truly needed, and in any case is produced for a celebration that's a subversion of a very real tradition our society has had with over 1000 years of history behind it. That very real tradition of Christmas has been destroyed and replaced by a fake mockery pretending to be the real tradition, but instead is a total and complete sham.

This sham is harming our traditions and harming our environment.

TechnoSanity #35: Buy Nothing Day