Better or Better Off?

On Thanksgiving night, as the last pieces of turkey were being wrapped in foil a few brave (crazy?) members of my family decided to venture out into the madness to do some shopping. They got home at 3 a.m. It’s what they are now calling Gray Thursday. Then came Black Friday. Then comes Small Business Saturday. And don’t forget Cyber Monday. I don’t know why Sunday has been spared but I am sure it won’t be long before we have Super Duper Sale Sunday to add to the list.

In 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt addressed the nation and called for a collective coming together of not only hearts and minds but also of wallets. In his speech he asked every citizen to be willing to sacrifice in this time of dire need saying, “This will require of course, the abandonment not only of luxuries but of many other creature comforts.” Everyone knew what needed to be done and everyone was willing to give up something for the greater good. Sacrifice was engrained into our collective conscience. It was what we did, it was who we were.

In 2001, following the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, President Bush addressed the nation and called for something very different. The terrorists had targeted the financial capital of the world. This was of course no accident. They wanted to hit us where it hurt the most. And the message in response was to keep the economy alive, keep shopping or the terrorists will have won. Consuming is engrained into our collective conscience. It is what we do, it is who we are.

We’ve all seen the footage in front of Wal-Mart and Best Buy. The long lines of consumers, setting up their tents, some waiting for more than a week just to save a few bucks. And we’ve all seen the people literally being trampled as the doors are opened, like wild animals.

We are a nation of consumers. But it seems, more and more, that we are the ones being consumed. Overwhelmed, swallowed up – not only our time and money but even the day of Thanksgiving itself. Gray Thursday, encroaching in on what used to be a sacred day, set apart for family, food, and giving thanks for what really matters.

From the author and activist Peter Maurin, ”The world would be better off if people tried to become better, and people would become better if they stopped trying to become better off. For when everyone tries to become better off, nobody is better off. But when everyone tries to become better, everyone is better off.”

It’s OK, I had to re-read it a few times too to really get it, but wow.

May we strive this holiday season to be better, not just better off.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Kingdom of Heaven - Ross Thomson

Hasty In Speech - Beau Davis

Trusting the Path - Sydney Lewis

The Mind of Christ - Ross Thomson

Experience - Bob Bentley



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