Black Friday

black fridayBlack Friday – it’s upon us. The day after the American Thanksgiving, Black Friday is a consumerist holy-day that for many heralds the start of the shopping season. Yes, a season dedicated to shopping, sometimes called “Christmas”. It’s usually a four-day weekend for many, with stores opened all that time offering supposedly amazing deals. It’s a celebration of all things consumerist.

In today’s society, it’s more important to have things than to do things. We seem to be defined by our possessions, yet the term possession isn’t correctly used: for the most part, we are possessed by them, not the other way around. This is not to say that it’s wrong to have possessions, but when the desire to have them, to increase them, to fight for them is all-consuming, we need to have a rethink. When we’d rather have “stuff” than time spent with family and friends, when we work to accumulate more stuff, to buy bigger houses for all our stuff, to buy storage for our stuff, it’s gone too far. Our stuff owns us. The real kicker is, and we all know it: you can’t take it with you when you die.

Black Friday is supposed to be a consumerist’s dream, with bargain offers that are only available at that time of year. In actuality it is a nightmare of epic proportions, where many people don’t realise that the “bargain offers” are still far in excess of what the item is really worth. It only reiterates how much profit is being made on consumer goods by capitalist middlemen.

To make matters worse, Black Friday has resulted in 7 deaths and 98 injuries since it began around 2000. Yes, 7 people have died. Customers and employees crushed when doors are opened. People being trampled to death. An elderly man collapsing and everyone around ignoring him. Guns coming out at Toys R Us and shootings while waiting in the queue. Pepper spray being used on fellow shoppers. People being shot over parking space disputes. The list goes on.

What is so wrong with our society that this would happen?

People are starving, homeless, fleeing war-torn countries with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Join me tomorrow for a Buy Nothing Day. No purchasing; not online, not in person. Say NO to the sickness in society that drives people to hurt one another over a “bargain”.

We can extend it further, looking at how we spend our money, on what, why and when. Look at what are necessities, and what is not. Before buying an item, think about whether you need it. Spend 30 days before you buy something – by then you will certainly know whether you need it or not, or whether it was a whimsical fancy. Spend your hard-earned money wisely on things that will last. You worked hard for that money, don’t fritter it away on what the media tells you that you should have. Decide for yourself.

There are bargains to be had all the time. Charity shops are amazing places to find treasures of all kinds. And the money is going to charity, to actually do some good somewhere. Make every penny you spend count. Make every penny a vote for what you believe in, whether it’s buying local and/or organic food, investing in green energy, buying clothes for work. If you can, really consider the impacts of online shopping too – often items are wrapped in so much plastic, and shipped worldwide that the cost to the environment is enormous.

Our money can be our most powerful weapon against the serious issues of today’s society. We can use it for good, for the benefit of all, not just for one. We can make the world a better place. Really, we can.

Instead of shopping for presents, if you have the time, make something. Cakes, jams, a poem or song for a loved one. Spend time with your family instead of shopping for presents in the evening or at weekends. Devote yourself to what is most important.

Blessings of peace.


13 thoughts on “Black Friday

  1. Absolutely right! It is pretty disgusting seeing people behaving in such a demented fashion. I think that we have lost the way and have become willing victims of consumerism. It saddens me to see so much selfishness when there are so many people living in abject poverty. But it isn’t in the interest of our governments to educate us against spending in such a wanton manner. It’s left to people like you Joanna, to make ‘us’ stop, think and take stock, before we squander what we have worked hard to accumulate. Thank you. 🙂

  2. Actually some of the small shops here are giving their takings to charity tomorrow plus there are lots of ideas around about how to make it a Give Away Day instead so that we help others rather than buying more of what we don’t need.

  3. I like your concept of the “shopping season”! I’m not a fan of shopping at the best of times but for as long as I can remember I’ve made extra efforts to avoid unnecessary trips to/through shopping areas for about six weeks around Christmas.

    I won’t find it difficult to avoid buying anything today since that’s a normal day for me and I more or less operate your “wait 30 days” policy. I also always decide in advance what I’m looking for when I do have to go out to buy things. One thing you didn’t mention which I find useful is to spend the waiting time asking myself not only “Do I really need this?” but also “Will this really change my life or am I just trying to buy myself an image?” I usually end up realising that what I want won’t change my life and that my actions are the things that do that. (Each year, at my local folk festival, I look at the wonderful Oakwood octave mandola’s – but I know that what I need to be a better player is more dedication and practice – only then would I be worthy of a new instrument.)

    On the other hand, maybe I’m just mean.

    (I do appreciate that I live a comfortable life here in the UK. I’m also aware that there are plenty of people in the world where a possession might indeed change their life: a warm coat; a tent; a home.)

  4. You’re so right Joanna, thank you. The following passage comes from a blog of Henk de Velde, a Dutch sailor, traveller, author and filosopher. I think it connects with your ideas:

    “In Passing” by Sterling Hayden, who lived 1916-1986.

    16To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea- ‘cruising’ it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.”I’ve always wanted to go to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is NOT to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous disciplines of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine-and before we know it our lives are gone.

    What does a man need–really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat, and shelter, six feet to lie down in–and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

    Best wishes, Raymond /|\

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