I am a sinner.
I try hard to rid myself of my sinful ways. I get up in the morning with every intention of living the day like it was my last stop before the pearly gates- but then find that sometime before breakfast I have squeezed in one more visit to the fleshpots.
So it is, my friends, with consumerism.
I try to resist, but the flesh is weak, the stuff so seductive- I am captivated as if by some golden snake in a gadet filled garden.
We live to our means- and then a little beyond them in our western culture. To NOT do this is strange. The challenge to all of us, for the sake of the planet, is to find ways to break the bonds of addiction, and to move towards simpler lifestyles.
Perhaps you are not ready to do this- but if you are not, then it is likely that neither will your neighbours, and more worryingly, neither will your children.
Which brings us back to Christmas- the jewel in the consumer crown. The cash cow. The season when the ship comes in (from China of course.)
We repentants need to pawn the crown and find something more meaningful to do with the money.
We need to kill the cash cow and feed it to the hungry.
We need pirates to plunder the ships on the high seas, and empty out the sweat shops of the global south.
OK, I am getting a bit carried away by all this imagery. But how do you change? Can anything we do really make a difference?
I have tried the left wing middle class option for years- doing much the same as everyone else, with a little guilt and ‘fair trade’ product placement. Always being unsatisfied in theory, whilst greedy for more in practice. I want so much better for my kids, as I fear that it may already be too late- that the addiction has taken hold with them.
And more and more it seems that Christmas is the key. If we can not resist consumerism over the season named after Jesus Christ- then perhaps we never will.
What I have discovered however is that only one thing really will make a difference- and it is a rather counter intuitive one-
STOP buying presents!
What? Is this not the meaning of Christmas I hear you cry? The joy of giving and the sparkle in the eye of Tiny Tim? How mean spirited and gloomy that is!
Do you really believe this though? Is it really not possible to be full of joy and love and laughter unless you have spent hundreds (and thousands) on stuff that for the most part will be in a landfil site within the year?
You see- we have tried asking people not to give us gifts- that is the easy bit. People gave anyway, as the powers of obligation are strong- and also, we are so conditioned to beleive that there is simply no alternative.
And the whole system is perpetuated.
The difficult thing is to contact people who you love, and discuss the fact that you will not be giving them shiny stuff this year.
This is not the same thing as giving nothing of course- but there are so many cash free alternatives.
Flee from the sin, and you will be on the road to freedom.
But… there is that golden snake again.