There is a divide in the United States that will play out three Fridays from today, as it does every year, that typifies the chasm between Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day.
Black versus Buy Nothing may not be the first divisive pairing you think of when you think of opposing groups in the U.S.
You probably think of is one of the following:
- Republicans versus Democrats
- 1% vs. 99% dichotomy
- Liberals versus Conservatives
- “Real” Americans versus Immigrants/people of color/and-or countless “others”
- Religious Fundamentalists versus Members of Religions of Tolerance
But the real divide which I and many, many others actively work toward bridging is much more difficult to describe and is somewhere between the two extremes. Confusion, ignorance and straw men have eroded what used to be an easily hopped over trickle of a stream of difference into a vast canyon with a raging stream of misunderstanding and distrust.
I still have hope that we the people can build a more perfect union. This time of year is a time when we can clearly see the interplay of the economy in so many of the supposed issues that divide us. I am not saying that issues are not real causes of division, but issues are not the root of the problem. Money is the root of the problem.
Last year, during the season of giving, love, and celebration the Pope called for recognition that:
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
— APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION EVANGELII GAUDIUM OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
I am not a Catholic. In fact I describe myself as a pre-Nicean Goddess Christian. I am not writing to discuss religion, don’t worry. For someone who sees a reflection of the feminine divine, as well as the male, and the asexual, when I look at the divine, and as someone who thinks that the religions that no longer have names because Christianity over-wrote those beliefs through incorporation of “Pagan” feast days and rituals when it conquered new lands and peoples on the journey Christendom made with its its politically and economically expansionist brothers of Rome and Spain… do not we all see brothers and sisters when we look out our windows? Don’t we remember we all want the same thing exemplified by what our culture calls The Golden Rule?
I am amazed that I am writing this because, although I believe in the spiritual connection of all beings in the universe and in the oneness and truth of love, I never thought I would be moved to tears by reading something from this amazing Papa Francis.
Money is the root of all evil. Greed is the personification of this truth.
I know we won’t change Consumerist Christmas, fueled by capitalism and Kochs and junky plastic kitsch for kids, all at once, but if we acknowledge and disengage from greed a bit this season, say by buying whatever you absolutely have to purchase in the next few weeks, or your kids will go absolutely freaking mad, from local, small businesses where you just might run into a friend or neighbor, put money into your local economy that tends to recycle itself several times to your benefit and others before it leaves your community, and which probably will be better made or better for you than some mass merchandised thing. If you have to buy something that is mass-produced try to purchase it from a local vendor or at least a local franchise; you may not find it for the lowest possible price, but you can probably find it for a fair price, and you will be putting a few cents or dollars into a positive economy and environment for your grandchild’s children. And that lessens long-term costs.
What if we banded together as intelligent women and said,on the day after Thanksgiving, “You know what? I’m going to stay home. Want to bake some cookies with me? Want to play a board game? ” Or even, “I’m not shopping for things I don’t need and would not want to receive. I’m using today to think very carefully about what I would like to give to each person I care about as a symbol of love, affection, or friendship? Then I am going to make it, write it, or find a local vendor for it. Baked goods, hand written greetings, and nice thoughtful presents.
So that is what I am doing this year? Who is with me?
This is a rewritten version of something I wrote last year. I feel even more committed to it now!