Thursday, November 24, 2005

Life Lessons in a Time of War—"Black Friday" Edition

Tomorrow, the shopping mania will possess millions of Americans on the day after Thanksgiving—the day that has come to be called "Black Friday." (It is considered "black" because of the accounting practice of marking profits in black and losses in red—thus, a day on which retailers expect to take in lavish gains is a "black" day. The etymology and history of the term are discussed in this Wikipedia article).

The problem with Black Friday and all that it represents is that its attitude is out of place with the times we live in and the dangers our planet faces. So while I would discourage no one from shopping (I like it, too, sometimes); I would also like to offer a reminder for those of us who are willing to contemplate before rushing headlong into consumption.

When you go shopping, think small, and look for small. Shop enough to fill a knapsack, not the back of an SUV. When you buy something, you are helping someone to prosper. Do what you can, therefore, to ensure that each someone you help with your purchases is one whom you would invite to your home, into your life, in friendship and trust. To do so is to help capital flow as nature intends.

When you feel the surging voice of want, ask questions of it before you respond to it with action. Look past the object of your want, and ask: "What does Want...really want? What does it need?" Ask this of every advertisement you see, every display you pass, every pang of consumption that you feel.

Before you buy, look within and wait until you see clearly what you would have and what it would mean to have it. Be clear within, and you will always have everything you need without.

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