People, Not Profits (for a day)

It’s Thanksgiving. It says so on my calendar. But we seem to have two calendars this year — the calendar that marks time and the economic calendar. On so many levels, this feels wrong. Let me count the ways.

1)I’m on this big kick lately about how people create the economic system.  We choose how much things are worth to us. We choose what we’ll buy. We choose what we “need”. We choose what kinds of things that — even if we can buy them, we don’t. We liberals are particularly good at this, but I’m sure there are things conservatives won’t buy because it’s their version of politically correct.  We choose what kinds of things we’ll buy, even if we think their silly. Pet Rocks anyone?  Black Friday is a made-up “holiday”.  I guess it used to be the biggest sale day of the year and someone figured this out, thus it became known as the day companies “went into the black”. Now it has to be the biggest sale day of the year or our economy will crash and the world will come to an end or some such nonsense.  Black Friday sales could be held on Black Wednesday or Black Tuesday or any other day. Does it need to be stretched to a holiday?  What about Black Wednesday sales with a day off for the holiday, or Black Tuesday followed by Travel Day, followed by the holiday, followed by Black Friday? My point is this: the tail is wagging the dog here, folks. Whatever day companies put all their stuff on incredible discounts!!!!! could be “The Big Day” for buying and selling.

2) It is impossible to have economic “holidays”. Why? Because the word “holiday” is short for, or derived from, the term “holy day”. Possessions are not holy. People are. Time is. In the old days, we used to separate out the “sacred” from the “profane” — not that things were evil. Profane in this case meant simply, “not as good as holy”, mundane, ordinary. “Holy” meant things created by God or related to God, things that only God could create. We are one of those things. The earth is one of those things. Time is yet another. Love and relationships are also holy. These things are sacred. Economics is not. So, please, let’s reclaim the term “holiday” as a day we celebrate what’s holy. If you want to have a economic Big Day that’s ok with me, but let’s not call it a holiday.

3) I think it was Abraham Lincoln who declared the first Thanksgiving. It’s time to free the slaves one more time. This time, though, they are wage slaves. Rest is important. No one in America may believe it, but there used to be a thing called The Sabbath. Also known as the Lord’s Day. Christians say it’s Sunday, unless they are Seventh-Day Adventists. Jews believe it’s Saturday. In any case, the belief is that God wants us to rest for a day a week. Human beings are not built to be working all of the time. Alternatively, they are supposed to take a day to think about what is important, lest they go somewhere else. We can get places quickly by working all the time. The question is, “Is it where they want to go?”. By working people on a holiday, we ruin both parts of this equation — we remove sacred time, and we prevent people from resting enough to think about what’s important — a double loss. Bob Marley once famously said, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/ None but us can free our minds”. It’s time to take his advice.  Fight back for your soul. For every day we give up to consumerism, to work (especially for low wages), we lose some intangible part of ourselves. It’s time to stop the spiritual bleeding.

4) I know we need an economy and I know  that people need jobs. I get it. I’m ok with both of them.\ and I’m aware that people do better with food and income.  We just need to get put them in perspective.  If businesses could close for a day that’s supposedly a holiday and maintain some sense of what’s really important, they could prove they value their employees and their employees’ families. If employees could choose not to work, they would show that they are valued as people not just as employees. I can’t help but think this would be a good thing.

Peace,

John

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