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.


Open Letter to the UK Itunes downloaders on the death of Margaret Thatcher

Please note: Thank you all for your comments on this popular blog piece – they have been insightful and inspiring – you have all taken the time to respond, respectfully and honourably, and for that I am most grateful.  If anything, many comments have shown me that I have lacked compassion for those who downloaded the song in the first place – I should have compassion for everyone.  I don’t have to like or agree with their actions, but I should always hold a measure of compassion.  However, I am no longer able to accept any more comments on this piece, as I need to focus on other writing.  Thank you, once again, all of you, from the bottom of my heart.

Well done, UK. Well done.  To all those who downloaded Ding Dong The Witch is Dead, you have made this song number 1 in the Itunes chart and number 3 on the billboard Top 40.  You’ve shown to the world that you have the capability to protest, albeit cowardly and completely lacking in compassion.  You’ve shown that you’d rather spend your money lining the pockets of CEO’s at Apple than donating it to a worthy cause, hell, maybe even giving your 89p to the homeless woman so that she can buy a hot drink and get out of the rain for an hour.  Imagine if you’d all spent that money towards a cause that actually did something useful.

You may have hated Thatcher for the lives that she ruined.  You may not even take the time to think of how your actions are affecting the family that she left behind, who may or may not agree with her policies (and if you have, and still went ahead and did it, I feel so sorry for you lost in your world of petty hate).  You need to know that you are not hurting her, you are hurting her family, of which there are people like you and me who are as far away from what she believed in as could be humanly possible.  You’ve demonstrated your complete lack of regard for those left behind, and may have ruined, or at the very least hurt some innocent lives yourself by doing so.

Revelling in the death of your enemies does not make you a better person.

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.” – Dalai Lama

You may think that you were being witty, or clever in doing so. In fact, you’ve only bought into the culture of selfishness and greed that you proclaim to so detest.

Well done, UK.  Well done.

P.S.  A friend just invited me to this on Facebook. A beautiful and inspired way to show the world how you feel about this.

Edit:  This has just come to my attention – Don’t Hate, Donate.  Make a difference with your money, instead of downloading silly songs.

A good article in the Guardian from Russel Brand –

Edit: the title of this blog has been edited to be more specific, as some people were misunderstanding just who it was aimed at and why, and I would like it to be clear…