Ok, I’ll admit that this is not a new observation made for the very first time. But I think it’s important to look at what we do, and perhaps given some of the things that may be new this year, to reflect a little on why we do them, and what they reveal about us.
Christmas is about consumption, and feeling good about ourselves as a result. Here in the US, and I suspect in some other parts of the world, it’s not about religion (Christian or otherwise). I know many, many people who have come to believe that Christmas is what the marketers would have us believe.
In other words, we have manipulated ourselves, over decades into a view of this holiday that aligns well with our true beliefs.
And so what I write about here is how we need to become aware of our habits — of the things we have come to believe are “necessary”. If we become aware of how we utilize resources like food, water, energy, air and so on, one can gradually recognize how little of what we say we need are things we actually do need. I fear many people, and perhaps even me and my wife, will be forced to come to grips with that reality as unemployment rates increase.
We have a lot of problems to contend with in the US these days: energy dependence, climate change, and of course the financial crisis. These issues, and several other are all wound up together. And the incident at Wal-Mart seems somehow symbolic, to me. Even in this severe downturn, we’re expected to buy only about 3% less stuff than we did last year at this time. We’re acting like our consumption during the holiday season is a necessity, or a right, or perhaps an obligation of one sort or another.
So let’s take a deep breath, and wonder not how we can buy green gifts this holiday season, but instead how we can start to step away from teaching this wildly destructive habit of over-consumption and greed to our children. There have to be other ways for us to show our appreciation and love for family and friends than in buying stuff. In fact, just buying stuff for others is a little shallow by way of showing appreciation, isn’t it?
Sorry for getting all preachy and stuff, but take a look at that headline: “Wal-mart Employee Trampled to Death” and think hard about what we have become. It ain’t pretty. Nor is it sustainable.