Posts Tagged ‘Black Friday’

The advertising machinery of commerce had succeeded beyond even its wildest dreams in brainwashing the American public into believing that happiness could be obtained in thrilling ways on the day after Thanksgiving by simply purchasing things. Sales that dazzled our craving and sensible budgets awaited diligent and committed shoppers, providing that they cued up in time to beat out all the other diligent and committed shoppers. If that required a little body blocking under the net, well, that’s all part of the game.

So the powers that be succeeded in their attempt to convince millions that this Black Friday ritual was now an essential part of the consumer landscape. And what are we considered if not consumers?

But the time kept get rolling back, moving earlier, until shoppers with frothing mouths stood poised outside of the store of Eden at the crack of midnight, waiting for the countdown, the rush, the possession, the kill. And with the addict poised to buy anything as soon as possible, anything to medicate the ceaseless craving, the architects of social life broke through the barrier: Thanksgiving Day itself. Yes indeed. And why not?

When you think of it, Thanksgiving is just an idea, not an absolute. You can plan your meal time, well, anytime of the day you choose. And why not consider shopping as part of the pleasure of a holiday? Yes, there is no reason to wait for Black Friday when the day before, Thanksgiving, is as wide open as the horizon.

And so the era of safeguarding one day for family, for giving thanks, for in-gathering, for detaching from compulsive acquiring and the pursuit of more profit, came to an end. Employers required their workers to report on a day that could have been spent with family or friends. People rushed through the pumpkin pies and even shortened naps to bolt to the access points, the places where the hunger to buy were open, luring with astounding values.

As people bought not only things but the line that said one more day of open cash registers is a good thing, they simultaneously lost one of the last great American Sabbaths.

I believe that I will pass on the madness of compulsory shopping on Black Friday, Thanksgiving or for that matter any pre-programmed day. Call it a personal revolution or an act of popular culture disobedience. I really don’t care how you describe it.

But count me out.

Finally, the collective ritual of gluttony is over. No, I’m not referring to Thanksgiving. I mean the day after.

We have institutionalized acquisitiveness to the point of declaring a national holiday for buying things. Black Friday has become a red letter day on the cultural holiday. If you are a patriotic citizen it is your bounden duty to get out there and spend what you don’t have in order to save money. Don’t you care about the economy? I mean, really, my patriot friend, get out there and run up your charge card!

We all know that the retail business depends on recurring seasons of spending. Each “holiday” is a revenue opportunity. Adding and institutionalizing new ones keeps the cash register humming. None of this, however, addresses the question of sustainability – either individually or collectively. The way to happiness is not through avarice or gluttony. The incessant advertising barrages would have us believe otherwise.

One of the answers is to observe a protest, an Un Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is precisely the day to not gorge ourselves with things. It is the perfect day to be quiet, read, take walks, chat with friends and otherwise receive the gift of the day.

To focus us for the revolution, here are words taken from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals:

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.

Teach me to listen to my heart.
Teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
I give you these stirrings inside me:
my discontent, restlessness, doubt, and despair.

I give you all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth.
Help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

Here’s to uncluttered space, to the breathtaking empty space on Un Black Friday.