How can I NOT rant about Black Friday ... Really?
Shopping. Shopping has become a form of entertainment in our culture. I'm not criticizing, I'm observing. I was part of that entertainment on Wednesday when my husband and I went to West Edmonton Mall to buy a couple Christmas presents and ended up buying some stuff for us, too. I am a product of my culture. But I no longer want to be. I feel guilty for buying stuff for myself - especially if I don't need it. "Stuff" is the problem. We buy stuff we don't need. We bring stuff home and stuff our houses full of stuff. And why do we do that? Because it feels good. It makes me feel like somehow I'm worthy if I buy stuff and have more stuff. And I know I'm far from being alone.
Well, today is Black Friday in the U.S. - the kick-off to the shopping season - the day after Thanksgiving when most people take the day off (from the job that they hate but need so they can buy more stuff) and participate in competetive shopping - the winner being the person who can spend the least on the most stuff (and now Canadian retailers have adopted this successful American shopping tradition so that they can try and make more money - so they can get bigger and sell us more stuff to stuff our houses full of). This is the time of year when people throw their cares away and blow the wad on great deals for stuff they don't really need (and let's admit it, most of the stuff people buy today is probably not Christmas gifts - oh sure, some of it is, but mostly we buy great deals for ourselves, right? Because who can pass up such a great deal? And do we need that stuff? Probably not).
Over the past few years I've been moving toward more of a lifestyle like my grandmother lived. I've been gardening (as you know), doing all my own baking, hanging the laundry to dry, you know, "back-to-the-Earth" kinds of things if you compare me to the regular full-time working mom. And it was feeling really good. Like I was doing something good for my family and myself and the Earth. I had perspective. But over the past 3 months I've lost it. I've lost the perspective. I've had more work these past 3 months than I usually do (and I had none for several over the spring and summer). So I've had less time for cooking, cleaning, repairing, making. I've had time to make money (which satisfies that "child-of-the-80s" material girl who is in here somewhere), but I haven't had time to keep up with the other stuff that I find so important and satisfying. I'm not complaining. The money is nice. But is it worth it? It's that question that I ask so often on this blog. Is it worth it to work and make extra money if I don't have time for the other things I value? And now I really do understand the food-in-a-bag phenomenon. A lot of people live lives so hectic that they don't have time to cook or be at all environmentally minded. I'm only able to do it because I generally don't work that much. But last night I was pretty damned tempted to buy a salad in a bag (I just couldn't do it, though).
So to get to the core of this post: I was watching the news this morning (as I lay in bed still feeling crappy from this cold and hoping that I don't feel too bad tonight because it's my husband's office Christmas Party tonight), and saw three news articles that combined to make me terribly sad (or angry, or just simply disappointed). The first was about Black Friday and how Candians flock south of the border to get the good deals on stuff. It made me sad because I really do feel that the way to help the earth is to stop consuming (I'm trying, really, I am) and there are just so many people who appear to not even have this on their radar. It's competetive. You lose if you don't get the deals. "The Earth? What's that? Why should I care ... I have a video game to buy." You've probably heard about it by now, but one woman pepper-sprayed other people just to get to the video deals faster. How did we get here?
The next news article that bothered me was about the Alberta Oil Sands (used to be called the tar sands, by the way. I was just reading something written about Fort McMurray in the early years of the 20th century when Fort Mac was still a trading post and the tar sands were known but not usable). Are you all aware that the carbon emissions from the oil sands are supposed to triple by 2020? That's a mere 8 years from now, people. They are going to be emitting three times what they did in 2005 by 2020! I was stunned.
The third news article that bothered me was about Starbucks gift cards http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20111125/starbucks-gift-cards-111125/. Be careful Starbucks consumers - if a clever computer geek gets ahold of your card's number, he might steal the $2.47 left on your card. Okay, so it wasn't the fact that someone could rip you off with your Starbucks card that made me pissed. What bothered me was that, after the blatant, depressing example of competetive shopping, and after talking about the fact that the oil sands is just blasting crap into our air so that Alberta can be rich and further pump more emissions into the air through the gas tanks of billions of Chinese cars, after these two really rather depressing and telling stories, the commentator actually said it was "scary" that the Starbucks card could be compromised. REALLY??? Not scary that people just keep buying stuff like crazy even though the economy is horid, many people can't afford food and every thing we buy puts a strain on our environment. Not scary that the oil sands is going to directly and indirectly contribute to further damage to our already critically damaged environment. No ... scary that you might lose a few bucks on your 'Bucks card.
Alright. That's my environmental rant for the day. I now have to get to work and finish this contract so that I can get back to what's important ... taking care of my family. Making sure they eat right, have all the moral support they need and have a happy, comfortable home to come back to. The pendulum swings, and it is time to swing back to "housewife" and away from "professional" ... if only for a little while.