There is a divide in the United States that played out last week, as it does every year, that typifies the chasm between Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day.
Black versus 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 in 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.
In this season of giving, love, and celebration the Pope has 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 someone who thinks that the religions that no longer have names because the 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.
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 new 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 kitch for kids, all at once, but if we acknowledge and disengage from greed a little bit this season, say by buying whatever you absolutely have to purchase in the next 19 days, 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 purchase 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.
Lois Alter Mark
Amen indeed. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I write.
1. Perfectly stated
2. Go Pope!
Why, thank you Ruth. Glad you think it was okay. It was sort of a sneak attack.
Carol Cassara (
Bless you–I agree wholeheartedly.
I’m really drawn to this very wise Pope…and, I’m not Catholic either!
I am trying to be more deliberate about purchasing gifts from local small business. Thanks for the reminder!
Yes this Pope seems to have gotten back to some near universal basics. Merry Christmas, Phoebe!