Thursday, November 26, 2009

Is it already Thanksgiving?

Oh my...where has the time gone? This means we're just a month away from Christmas, and while that doesn't really mean a lot to me since I will continue to write and teach throughout the New Year without much of a break, I know the "holidays" and its attendant "spirit" will soon be in the air.

You know what I'm talking about: big sales!

Tomorrow, Black Friday, marks the official start of the shopping season and though I hadn't intended to be part of it, my Mom and Dad apparently had so that's what we will be doing at least some point during the day. Mo with Dad at Costco, cuz that's manly shopping, and me with Mom at (hopefully) some non-mall discount stores.

I already have a headache just thinking about it.

I will probably sound anti-American (and supremely non-thankful) but I hate consumerism with a passion. I hate the accumulation of material things. I hate the idolization of acquisition. I don't want to own things. I don't want to covet my neighbor's new car. I don't want to feel like less of a person because I don't have a house, a boat, a giant television set, or a closet full of designer clothes.

I don't begrudge other people the right to purchase whatever their heart desires but I do hate the media and big business for exploiting and encouraging it above real values, values of friendship and family and honor and honesty. It's almost as if - could it be true? - that corporate America doesn't want its citizens to live fully, to make choices based on need rather than want. Especially during the current economy! It's unconscionable to foist false dreams on the American public.

Recently I watched the movie "Food Inc." which is an excellent documentary about where our food really comes from in this country. The section on cows and E. coli included discussion about how the potentially deadly bacteria gets into our food. Eric Schlosser, who wrote the book Fast Food Nation on which the doc was based, said that cows could easily be rid of 80% of their E. coli if they are taken off a corn diet and fed grass, as is their natural evolutionary wont, for 5 days.

Rather than take this "natural" step, the beef industry chose instead to create an additional, even more unnatural step of washing the meat in an ammonia bath. In other words, rather than move in a more positive and humane direction, the industry took drastic steps to maintain the status quo.

Apply this to our economic situation: big business is not seeking new solutions to old problems but is desperate for ways to continue doing things the way they always did. It continues to push consumerism on us - it's merely seeking new ways to cut costs so that we can more readily afford what it's selling. Close US industries, open factories in Guam or some other small island nation where the employees can be exploited, keep costs down - but sell, sell, sell and earn even more profits for its shareholders.

This isn't real change. This isn't helping the American economy. This isn't giving families what they truly need. On this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for being allowed to speak my mind, thankful I have good friends and family and a loving husband, thankful I'm able to live in an apartment and buy healthy food. It's what I wish for all people in this country.