Why is it called Black Friday, and what's the harm, after all, in getting something on the cheap and saving a little hard-earned cash? I offered some explanation on these points in last year's post on this topic. So instead of repeating myself, here are a few alternatives for action or observance on Black Friday.
◊ Adbusters is suggesting a "Buy Nothing Day" for this weekend. I'm personally not in favor of this sort of token restraint, because it tends to make the responding activity of catch-up acquisition so much the more feverish—like dieters who starve themselves for a day or two and then gorge the next, accomplishing nothing in all. But if this kind of a demonstration feels natural to you, the way walking in a protest march instead of going to a baseball game would, then go for it, and never mind what anyone else has to say about it. Generally, I'd be more in favor of recommending a life-review of sorts that encompasses a policy of reflection ahead of gathering. Life, after all, is not meant to be lived hermetically or ascetically; just practically. True prosperity is to life as health is to the body: a well-being that extends outward, and benefits the whole through the enrichment of the individual. Your material life is not separate from its cosmic source. Before you buy, remember the planet, the next generation, and most of all, your true self. You will consistently make good decisions when you do that.
◊ Watch this film (yes, you can buy it on "Buy Nothing Day" if you don't already have the dvd). It's called "The Corporation", and is worth viewing. It's entertaining, informative, a little scary, but nonetheless inspiring. It will also put a lot of things in perspective for you about Black Friday and the great grab in general.
◊ Buy the way you vote. If you read this blog regularly, it's a fair assumption that you generally voted along with the majority of the American people a few weeks back. Consider every purchase you make a vote on the future of democracy, our nation, and the planet we live on. This message is very thoroughly delivered at Buy Blue, a website that can show you which companies and products deserve (or not) your business, based on their level of social commitment as measured by such things as PAC contributions, affiliations, and community programs. They have a very good directory of companies and product categories, which can help you make purchasing decisions that accord with your social values while also accomplishing the other objective of shopping.
◊ Change the form of government within yourself. You know the government in Washington needs changing; what about the governance of your self? Corporations and their media and advertising arms too easily sway us, too smoothly govern us. As the film I recommended above points out, this is the result of billions of dollars of research, technology, and marketing. Make it your job to resist that attempt at an insidious psychological tyranny. This is one of the messages of our banner quote of the week, which was written somewhere between three and five thousand years ago. It's from the I Ching, the ancient Chinese oracle and insight guide that I rely on in my private counseling practice and my personal life as well. The translation in our quote is from the traditional Wilhelm rendering, which is beginning to show its age (it was done in German in 1923; in English in 1950). I'd suggest something like the following, which I think may deliver a more contemporary meaning of the text:
Revolution. At the right time, your true self leads, and is trusted. Persevere in this, and success arrives and grows. Guilt is thus dispersed...Changing the form of the government within brings good and lasting fortune.
The people who wrote the I Ching lived through times of turmoil, oppression, and gross violence and inequality not unlike our own. They knew that the social order could never be transformed without a corresponding change within enough free individuals to truly make a difference. So they recommended a trust in oneself rather than a belief in some new system of politics, religion, or societal conditioning. Throughout its text, the book urges perseverance, and with good reason. They knew that a successful life—one in accord with Nature and with truly human values—requires consistent effort and regular self-examination. This is the point of a personal oracle: you ask questions of it, and in doing so you make a connection with a broader, more encompassing perspective than you would get from focusing solely on parochial interests or the dictates of advertisers and media pundits. That connection is not separate from you, nor does it comprise an appeal to an external authority or a distant deity. It is rather a connection made between the person you truly are and the universe whose breath is your own being. To understand this and to create this connection within your daily life is to turn away from the corporate delusion and toward reality—to open the pathway to a "daily revolution", if you will.
And now you know how the name of this little blog came to be.
If you'd like to learn more about the I Ching, you can have a look at the various resources at my Learning the Basics page, or check out some of the sites noted at the top of my Links page.