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!
I am all for Buy Nothing Day, but I don’t see money as the root of all evil. It’s a necessary tool and can be used responsibly. And IS used responsibly by many people. Greed would be the manifestation of bad juju as far as money is concerned. Money itself is neutral.
There are other roots of evil and we see them in the headlines every day. I doubt that misguided people who buy arsenals to defend their families are always motivated by money.
I don’t shop on BF and don’t plan to this year. It’s mostly because I shop all year round and don’t need to go fight crowds and their crazy behavior on that one day You might see me out on a weekday morning before the hordes. Or baking. I am not sure I ever saw any pleasure or positives from shopping that day. I hope other people make the same decision.
Carol, you are right greed is the root of all evil. And yes I know I am over simplifying. Money is just a concept. One of my first college essays was on Red feather money and the construct of worth. Most of the women I respect who blog are way too smart to fall for any of my gross oversimplifications or fall into the traps set by them.
I hate shopping of all kinds, so this is not an issue for me. Black Friday? A ridiculous concept and when I watch people crawling over one another to get steals at the register, it’s awful. Money is necessary and, in the end, it’s people who can or can’t make it evil depending on how they use it – for good or evil. All in all? I’ll bake any day!
I knew I liked your style: “I’ll bake any day!”
I, with every fiber of my being, love how you said this: “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 love your buying suggestions. I am again taking it in another direction – I am strategically “giving”. Matching a charity/cause/ideal with each person and making sure it is the right fit and then making a donation.
And…GO POPE! I can only think that there are a few, high up in the church, shaking their heads wondering how he got through the vetting process but I love his understanding of and compassion for the human condition. Yeah, GO POPE!
“Go Pope!” I love it. My family doesn’t really care for charitable contributions as gifts. But I’m with you in wanting to do this. I’m glad you enjoyed my perhaps overly wordy description. I like writing.
Anne Louise Bannon
What really annoys me is that Black Friday seems to be leaching into Thanksgiving Day, itself. I sort of understand – who doesn’t want a great deal? But it’s not something I’ll participate in. My problem with gift giving time is the members of my family who equate love with money spent, including my mother. She hates homemade stuff, so that’s out. She says she doesn’t want anything then makes a big deal about the beautiful this or that my sister-in-law bought for her. Worse yet, she believes she’s not materialistic, so forget trying to change that attitude. Oh well. I’ve managed in the past. I’ll do it again. But not by fighting crowds to save a few bucks.
Sometimes you just cannot please people. I know what you mean. Giving a gift is not supposed to be a keeping up with the Jones’ status thing.
Lois Alter Mark
This is a no-brainer for me. You would never find me shopping on Black Friday or Thanksgiving. The consumerism in this country is off the charts.
I know that most of the people I read and the people who read me will not be shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, but how do we reach and convince the people who do?
I have never shopped on black Friday and do not plan to start now. My daughters tried it twice and hated it. I shop local as often as possible and love when my local retailers make it easy for me to shop on line and pick up at the store.
I will be baking, decorating and wrapping gifts for my thirteen grandkids on black Friday.
13 grandkids! Oh that is so much love! Local shopping can turn around a community.
The older I get, the more turned off I am by consumerism…Black Friday, being the high holy day of that character defect. And I do so love the pope. Thanks for sharing his words.
After working in hospice for years and seeing countless people on their deathbeds, the verse “don’t store up your treasures on Earth…” Matthew 6:19 is more and more meaningful.
Yes it is a turn off. And as we age and see more and more people we love pass on, we start to get it. As a non-Catholic Pope Francis is the first Pope I have real respect for.
It’s upsetting to see holiday decorations all over the stores already. I’m steering clear.
I miss the distinct Holiday celebrations we had when I was a kid.
You have the quote on Money wrong. Most people quote it wrong. It’s : The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. ”
Money is good in many ways. It’s the LOVE of money that has destroyed so many.
Thanks Shelley. i need to find the original. The version you use is far more powerful.
I agree that greed has taken over. While I am totally against them starting Black Friday on the actual Thanksgiving Holiday itself, I have gone to shop on Black Friday with my young adult children just for fun. I could easily stay home too.
Elin Stebbins Waldal
“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?” Love that. I am not a “Black Friday” shopper. I have a few homemade gifts in mind for this year. Of course there are things for my kids that I won’t make, but for us the season is about gathering, time together. The love we share.