I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow. Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind
I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.
Wimpy (from Popeye)
The Yuletide shopping frenzy has just started. Already, we hear the ringing of cash registers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as people flock to stores-be they physical or virtual-to do their Christmas shopping. It’s almost an annual ritual that has become insane where people camp out in front of stores on Thanksgiving Eve just for some “bargains”. Stores even started their Black Friday on Thanksgiving Eve too; and some were open Thanksgiving Day. Traffic’s tied up as stores become gladiatorial arenas for shoppers. Retailers pump non-stop ads into our brains assuring us they have plenty of the “I gotta have it now” item for our Christmas list. And it not just for others we go overboard during the Holidays, but for ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’ve earned that (fill in the blank) as a Christmas present to ourselves.
TV bombards us with buying high-ticket items: cars, jewelry, the latest electronic gizmo, etc. We’re constantly exhorted to spend, spend, spend as if there’s no tomorrow. From rich to poor, everyone’s taught this one time of the year you can be generous. Plus, we’re told (via Madison Avenue) that we show our love when we purchase some big-ticket item for a loved one-especially our spouses.
And it’s not just confined to this time of the year. All the time, we act as if there’s no tomorrow. We buy big cars and houses for small families. We burn more gas than calories. We spend money on the latest smartphone to “stay connected” when it would less to go see that person face-to face. We use up the very resources that God gave us to maintain our lifestyles today-at the cost of the environment and lesser-fortunate people, thinking that we can worry about it “tomorrow”-like Scarlett O’Hara. And like Wimpy, we’ll gladly pay on “Tuesday” for our lifestyle today (and Wimpy has yet to pay).
Even the church has gotten into the act through it’s “prosperity gospel”, feeding the lie that Christians can have it all at the expense of the environment and “sinners”. That God wants us to be “rich” with fine homes, houses, cars, big churches, and living like kings (whereas many “non-Christians” live in poverty). All we have to do is “sow” into some ministry and we’ll “reap a hundredfold”-a gospel that caters to our very greed and ego.
This mess also flies in the face of two of my core values: abundance and celebration. I believe in abundance-for all. In the above scenario, it’s abundance only for a few at the expense of others. The universe is abundant-true, however it doesn’t mean that we keep on gorging our egos with resources (physical and human) that could be used for the benefit and betterment of all humanity. And we don’t limit abundance to money and material shit; how about love, peace, spirituality, sexuality, creativity, joy, good health… C’mon people, let’s toss the catalogs aside and get this thing right! Let’s consume less and give more, so that all can have.
When it comes to celebration, Christmas should be a time of making merry and celebrating the bursting forth of God’s love through His/Her Christ here on Earth. We can have festivities where we all come together, and give the greatest gifts of all-our love; no matter the race, class, gender, belief, nationality, etc. And also to celebrate the Earth and how it sustains us daily We can take our bounty and have community parties where eating, drinking and partying can be found. However, today’s Holiday season fluctuates from the crass materialism noted above, to the sicky-sweet sentimentalism we see in American Christianity and in Hollywood. We also celebrate the yearly escapism to some mythical “home for the holiday”-a quaint old-fashioned, snow-draped, country Christmas that speaks of old time “values” and safety from the outside world.
This mañana attitude in our culture is going to catch up to us. It’s already caught up with many who’ve overspent and now find themselves in a financial hole, playing a perpetual game of “catch-up” with their bills. Our rampant abuse of the environment and our “we’ll get to it later” attitude just manifested itself through Hurricane Sandy a month ago along with other weather changes that boggle the mind. Our constant lifestyle maintenance at the expense of the poor is already causing resentment here and abroad. Even the church is now losing its relevancy as it follows the siren song of materialism.
Then tomorrow will come, and it’ll all come to a grinding halt. Our resources will finally give out, or become scarce enough that we have to start making very tough lifestyle choices. Our financial system built on cheap credit and non-durable items will eventually collapse below our feet, shutting down our stores and turning Black Friday into “Red Friday”. We’ll wake up one morning and discover that our global party table is bare and that the party is over. We’ll have to accept a new normal that won’t dance to our tunes. Even said church will find itself bereft of members (and money) as it wakes up to the ugly truth that it strayed from the God it professes to serve. We will have to mature and enter a new phase of human history together-like it or not.
We meed to understand tomorrow’s coming-like it or not. Either we can make changes now-like those I’ve alluded to above-so that tomorrow will easier to accept for all of us. Or we can keep living like there’s no tomorrow; and then when tomorrow comes we’ll get one collective kick in the ass for sure. Something for us to think on…today.