Some like Billy Graham, and his no-count, couldn’t get a real job son Franklin, but I get inspired by another Reverend Billy, the preacher of the Church of Stop Shopping.
American per capita consumption is a basic cause of the greenhouse gassing that causes Climate Change. Call it Consumer Society. Call it shopping. Consuming our plastic and shipping-heavy retail, our pesticides and all the fossil uses of industrial food, and of course our consumption of fossil power: gas, oil, coal, fracking. We’ll call all this shopping. All these buys have at their center, the act of responding to marketing pressure and making the wrong purchase.
Sandy, as she got angrier and more deadly by the heated-up ocean – she liked our shopping less and less. Even before landfall last week, we responded. We instinctively began our gift economies, run by volunteers. Wall Street bowed to the power of Sandy and stopped trading. We stopped shopping. Politicians were suddenly freed from their corporate scripts and breaking the taboo, spoke openly about climate change – in public! They even allowed for the possibility of collective non-commercial action. Call it “good government.”
The hypnotic stupidity of the shopping grab-n-swipe is basic to modern capitalism. It makes markets, increases profits. But the commodify-everything ethos is too unseeing to mix with our more important civic work, like health care or education or law enforcement. Sandy has taught us unforgettably that shopping in its various forms is a dangerous mix with our caretaking of life on Earth. ExxonMobil and the Koch Bros. etc. should never have been in the same room as the scientists advising the President on climate change.
If you find this all a little too earnest, let me put in a word in defense of slacking. I’m posting this from Speedee Oil Change, using the blessed day off to do things I feel like doing. The compulsory shopping mania does not engage me at all. If you enjoy the crowds, then go for it. Different strokes, after all. But simply opting out may be a constructive act in itself, as we each define our own vision of a happy holiday.
And to Speedee, and nurses, and firefighters and everyone else working today, thanks. Someone has to keep it going 24/7, and that’s okay as long as we are fair.
Wow, maybe slacking after Thanksgiving is catching on, a Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans are skipping the sales today.