Saturday, November 24, 2012


This is the time of year that Americans ready themselves to enter the heart of consumer society.  During this season, retailers reap the largest profits and shoppers suffer the most stress.  As a supporter of Buy Nothing Day and Advent Conspiracy, and as someone who knows the link between the things we buy and human trafficking and slavery in the world AND environmental destruction, this time of year makes me sad.  Well-intentioned people insist on engaging in the orgy of consumerism in the name of love. 

I live in a community that has a very small, underfunded homeless shelter (and a law that prohibits the establishment of another) and that lacks a domestic violence shelter.  I've come to believe that, despite the fact that this is an economically depressed area, it's not for lack of funds.  Our local Wal-Mart seems to be doing just fine.  As are the restaurants, especially the new ones.  (A Cook Out fast food outlet opened recently and the lines to get in wrapped around the building and held up traffic.)  While there are people who are suffering economically, I also see shopping carts filled with unnecessary, frivolous junk and restaurant parking lots packed day after day with people eating unhealthy food.  While there are many generous individuals here, much of good done for charity this time of year is nickel and dime stuff.  We can do so much more.

I'm imagining that this year adults could create a different kind of holiday season.  Most of us have everything we need.  What if, instead of insisting on and giving unnecessary and often unwanted gifts, we did something collectively.  What if a community came together for a long-term project?  What if we did this by partially opting out of the needless gift giving?  What if we told our loved ones to not buy us anything this year because we know we are loved?  What we dropped one "marginal" recipient from our list, someone we're not even sure should be on our list?  What if each parent dropped one small gift from the list for their children?   If each person told one person to not purchase a gift for them and if each person dropped one recipient from their list and if each parent chose to purchase just one less, then that money could go to something really good.  Imagine if that amounted to $50 extra per person in a community of 50,000.  If those 50,000 donated $50 each, then that would raise $2.5 million.  Imagine the possibilities if this was done year after year.  Imagine if every community imagined.


Anonymous said...

How can there be a law that prohibits the establishment of a homeless shelter? For what reason?

Cherie said...

Anonymous, some in our community believe that having a shelter encourages homeless people to move here. Not logical, but that's what I have been told.