At this time of the year which traditionally starts with Black Friday, the day after another holiday called Thanksgiving, of course the marketplace is bombarded with the hype of mass consumerism. We hear and see stories of customer frenzy over big price deals with the expectation for a big season of big profits for many of the big corporations.
Then every January, we continue to hear the disappointing news of lower sales than originally hoped for during the entire season. Economists continue to speculate what the reasons are as they analyze their statistics which continue to be dismal in most markets. Is it any real surprise?
Most people that I know are legitimately broke and not because they just don't know how to handle money or keep a job on their own accord. Of course many of us already know that, but a lot of the 99% and the 1% as well don't seem to connect with what that means yet. As more and more people continue to lose their jobs, their homes, pensions and other benefits, therefore lose more opportunities to build personal capital for more secure futures in our so-called established free market system, the more frugal that they will become especially at the time of the year known as 'the most wonderful time of the year;' quoting that famous classic holiday song.
Fewer gifts with higher price tags are being purchased and even credit cards are used much more sparingly these days. Many of us engage in and hear conversations including the words 'the credit card is for emergency purposes only.'
Consumer confidence continues to wane, but that doesn't mean that people have completely given up on gift giving and sharing. Quite the contrary. There are many people who always give their time and in other ways to charity all year around even though organizations such as food banks definitely feel the economic crunch now when they put out extra appeals for donations of more goods and volunteer services at various times of the year. Those of us involved with the Occupy Movement have personally witnessed incredible giving of time, talent, and resources since the end of September.
We as consumers will continue to consume, but we must decide what we really want to consume. How about instead of being obsessed with consumer goods produced by cheap labor and sold for exorbitant prices that we participate in socially and economically responsible gifts that have a truly deep personal touch and a respect for human beings as we reach out and care for each other? That is supposed to be what gift giving is about, but is that on people's minds when they go to a store with pepper spray to get to the front of the line, or even just fill their carts with a lot of stuff that will eventually just sit in storage somewhere because of sentimental but no real practical value? It doesn't even really help the economy as we are seeing more and more.
How about buying environmentally friendly and personal wellness gifts such as organic foods and other health conscious products or even yoga sessions and bicycles? How about supporting locally owned mom and pop shops? How about exchanging hand crafted or other homemade gifts? How about more bartering? I know a meet-up group that is actually doing a secret santa online by just sending creative e-mail cards and greetings with happy messages.
Some of the best times in my life have just been being with wonderful loving people and enjoying their company and conversation. It makes me feel very jolly just thinking about it. There are many people like this who have already connected to the family of Occupy.
Some of the best gifts are free or don't require much if any money at all. This is as good a time as any to make a statement that we care about our fellow human beings to the point that we aren't going to focus attention on the extreme materialism of our culture. Many of us love our country and the planet where we live. We just have a great need as I see it to really understand and act on our most important priorities. NOW is a good time to focus more on the reason to be jolly than all of the needless folly. Enjoy the celebrations NOW and all year long.
Love and Peace NOW...
P.S. If anyone is interested in helping me organize a meet-up before the end of December...for instance in a public coffee shop... to celebrate with fellow jolly occupiers and also for the purpose of sharing information with more of the 99% that just happen to be there.. let me know. I have more ideas to share later about helping to build more music and culture in the movement, too, working with existing committees, etc. Stay tuned! For more information also there is a Facebook page called Occupy Outreach. Please check it out and LIKE it. Thanks. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Outreach/141679115935494