Saturday, November 10, 2007

Time to shop?

I caught myself getting hooked by the magical thoughts of shopping for Christmas. I dream of buying the perfect gifts for people I hold dear. I want to make their life lighter, richer. But then I came to my senses and remembered that I don't have to present them with a purchase.

Department stores are starting their holiday sales early this year. They are worried that sales will suffer in light of economists saying people aren't spending money. Media suggests that we need to do our part to keep the economy from suffering! Don't let them guilt you into thinking that this year it will be different, that you can buy happiness and all will be well.

Remember the message from our president urging after 9/11, that we should to go out and spend money, buy things as the way to make things better?! I hope we are all wiser and think before we fall for this false assumption of economic well-being: buying things, or things themselves, will bring happiness.

Bill McKibben in Deep Economy indicates the US is producing more, has higher economic incomes and more things than ever before, but we are no happier or satisfied. There is a growing dissatisfaction with all the things, a deep longing for community. Some people are shifting their priorities, working less and spending more time with family and friends.

Bishop Robinson of England, in his 1980's book, Enough is Enough, suggested three maxims to remember as we look at ads, walk through stores, are tempted to add a few more things to our bounty:

Who are you kidding?
You can't take it with you.
The price is too high.

He calls us to a "joyful revolution" of people over things, of time spent in community and removing ourselves from the work/spend cycle we fall into. I, for one, value people and community. I am on the search for ways to say I love you without "breaking the bank" or putting more money into the pockets of corporate America (clearly they haven't reached a level of happiness either).

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