A Buy Nothing Christmas
So, we have this need to buy… we all (if you’re reading this blog with any regularity) familiar with the schemes of consumerism, materialism, image maintenance, etc. We know that the proverbial “5th Avenue” tells us we’re not content unless we buy, have, experience, wear and define ourselves within the image machine they’ve created. We actually feel worth less if we don’t do, have and consume what they define for us.
We all know it is a scam, a shame, not God honoring, a value system straight from hell… but… we simply don’t care… and we go buy to be again. Why? Simple really – we want to, we like it, in other words – “We’re addicted.” This isn’t the normal addiction where the user lies saying “I can quit whenever I want…I just don’t want to quit, right now. This deep seated lie reveals a lot about us: a war of two Kingdoms rage within us.
1. We define our value, worth, status, standing by not just what 5th Avenue tells us, what our other addicted friends tell us (boy, do addicts want company to validate their own addiction), but we like it and we don’t care that we are whoring ourselves out to this cheap, unsustainable definition of life.
2. We are more worried about others than being free from the addiction.
3. We don’t even consider much less understand how the freedom from addiction is a great freedom to not be under it’s/their influence, control, power.
I’ve wrestled it for decades really. I/we are making progress – great progress. Yes, we buy some things more expensive than others (organic non-hormone induced meat, fresh fruits, etc, or a tool of quality that lasts over the one that will give way in no time), but we work to a) shop wisely, b) consider its origins, c) ensure it is for a true proper motive – not for others – but for our own hearts. If our motives are for others, truly, and not for ourselves, we might buy something more so.
BUT, what if it is cheaper to buy the rubbish 5th Avenue sells us? What if cheaper is more chic? One can possibly on a few opportunities (note italics) actually be cooler by buying cheaper… does this license a God worshipper to then buy into 5th Avenue’s system? Or is it a rare opportunity to “be chic” and buy into a system, validate and support a system – even when it is a system counter to God, making it harder for the world to hear Him, making people more shallow, more trite, more empty, less fulfilled? Is it best then?
I mentioned considering its origins. We work to also consider how many miles this food travelled to get to us… for a couple of reasons. First, the fuel used to get food across a continent versus grown locally – just outside the city, or maybe IN the city are a major consideration. Locally produced and bought food puts income 100% in our local economy. Imported puts most of the income in the hands of massive corporate farms and small wages to local people. Beyond that, the local food is picked later – fresher and hence more packed with vitamins etc… Last – using so much resource to get it here is not healthy and (okay, one more last) investing into our own community builds social capital that cannot be priced.
What would it look like if we – God’s people – were free of the influence, the power and control, the addiction they have imprisoned us with? Wow – more income (tight for all today) to a) spend on ourselves or b) even spend on those in real need? The emotional health of not feeling that constant never appeased “need” to buy, want, have, wear, be validated by others over what label I wear…
Where to start?
Christmas is great, but it’s been redefined so much in my lifetime alone…. it’s about celebrating the idea of celebrating the ideal of faceless intimacy and warm relationship, the merriment of celebrating aimless celebrating. It’s about caring about family we don’t invest in the rest of the year, the caring about people we don’t care about the rest of the year and then, just enough religion (choose one…) to feel good about ourselves. Even the idea of Jesus’ birth is sanitized as to why He came.
We’re doing something odd to many. My family doesn’t get it… we’re having a “buy nothing” Christmas. We’re not giving gifts to each other, to our closest friends, or anyone. We’re giving whatever we have away to those in need. It’s not to get attention, but simply to bless. For some, that leaves a huge hole in them to even think about… no massive packages bought on credit one can’t afford for that morning and the ripping paper… We have no want, no need – so why do this for no reason other than a market created need to get and give presents not asked for.
Consider what I’ve proposed above in my discussion – origins, what, why you buy what you buy and try to shift local and based on real need, not image motives behind the risk.
Here’s my Christmas cheer for this year: 6% of the world’s population consumes 46% of the world’s production. Hmm.
Want to defend it? Here’s your only argument…. “Mine.”