mindful on Black Friday

Mindful of the folks we may meet on Black Friday: Out in the parking lot, there is a young man in a “Buy Nothing Day” T-shirt, and zombie makeup. He has a good understanding of  the evils of consumerism, and he is still working on developing real compassion for the humans caught in the system. He is grateful for the professional stage makeup that his girlfriend gave him.

A Walmart employee, out on strike, just like many others, across the country. He cannot afford to quit, but he is totally fed up with their working conditions. After five years, he is making 85 cents more per hour than he did when he started, with no benefits and he is still occasionally forced to work unpaid overtime. He is grateful that his family has health insurance through his wife’s job.

Inside the store, there is a Target employee who is frantically trying to get her shopping done before she goes to walk the picket line at her store. Her little girl wants *one* item for Christmas, and she was not allowed to buy it at Target. This is the only other place she might be able to afford it—if there are any left. She is grateful to find one, and imagines the look on her daughter’s face, as she opens it.

A Walmart cashier, working a second job over the holiday rush, is trying to get caught up on her student loans. She misses her best friend, who usually works the register next to hers. She is grateful for the improving health of that friend’s husband.

The security officer wishes he could go out and drive away the strikers, who are spitting in the face of the hardworking values he has spent his life upholding. He is grateful that he only has five weeks and three days before his retirement.

The store manager is also freaking out about the strikers. He is worried that they will slow down his business so much that he’ll have to lay off two more employees. He has already laid off several; he could barely look them in the eye as they begged for their jobs. He chews two more antacids tablets, straight from the bottle. He is grateful that he got to see his son, home from college, for a couple hours before heading to bed so he could get up at 3 am this morning.

And a shopper, whose husband works two jobs, while she works from home and volunteers at their church. She loves shopping on Black Friday; she really does enjoy buying things for her family and friends. Like she does every year, she is wearing jingle bell antlers. She is grateful that her best friend is shopping with her again, having missed last year’s sales, while caring for her aging parents.

We have to be consumers, but let us be wary of consumerism (the belief that we can find meaning, purpose or joy through buying the “right” things). Let us be intentional with our time and money.

Paraphrasing Juliet Schor, may we work and spend less, and may we create and connect more.

So may we be.

 

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so may we categorize: