By LENNOX FARRELL
Is there a way to force governments – Canadian and others – to call out the army, the navy, the air force, the Senate … all to declare a state of emergency on us, citizens?
Of course, and speaking hypothetically, all we have to do to bring on us such declared states of tanks and troops is, as citizens – and even more as humans with families, friends and other such current oddities – to refuse to dance to the year-long tunes of gross consumption available here. It is a dance that grinds us down all year long, from Black Friday to White Christmas; from St. Valentines’ red hearts to egg-yellow Bunny Easter … relentlessly overwhelming us all the way for final burial under Skull ‘n Bones Halloween, and resurrected in time to finance Santa’s excess: Christmas.
It seems that humans in this hemisphere, caught between the vises of these ‘cultural parentheses’, have one purpose being born: to spend life, spending! One’s career is to try to incur more debt. One’s calling is towards all things plastic; that is, to spend, spend, spend … and remain stricken with an overwhelming sense of incompleteness.
Yes, to get politicians, ordered by their corporate overlords, to declare war on us, is for each of us to wake up one bright morning just feeling good about ourselves. Grateful for life, and opportunity to bless others. I mean, it doesn’t have to even be really, really good! Just ordinary good! All we have to do to declare war on the state is to declare how much we like ourselves, just as we are.
We, as men and women, children, young and other adults, like the colour of our hair. Our perfume. How we look. Are satisfied with our clothes, our weight, height, the car we drive, the TV, utensils we use, etc.
We may declare that while we already have more shoes than Imelda Marcos, we are not centipedes. That in our enlarged closets are shirts not yet worn, socks still with the tags and pants, pants, pants enough with which we could launch our own department store franchises!
In fact, for us to spark war on ourselves, we only have to feel so good about what we have, about how we feel, and who we are, that we do not feel the need to go out and spend, spend, spend! In fact, the operational sentiment shoe-horning us into this mistletoe ‘n tinsel madness, is one more valuable than mere need! It is a sentiment that is the spawn of a corporate, well-orchestrated feeling metastasizing inside each of us. It is Guilt!
Guilt, like greed, is good! Guilt pays. Guilt makes a wise person otherwise. Guilt makes parents malleable, and grows children entitled. Guilt makes one spend what one does not have to get what one does not need, for others who in turn feel mutually guilty to get what neither need, want, nor use! It makes one find someone else on which to foist yet another ‘gift’!
Guilt exorcises common sense out of us. It makes of us lemmings, seasonally racing headlong over cliffs of greed and uselessness.
So, for there to be a state of war, we as citizens have to simply decide and declare that we will spend, not more money, but more time with family, friends and community. Pure treason!
That we will not be manipulated by a sense of guilt, one capable of pushing us into long, long lines to genuflect to cash registers, and stew in long, long lines of traffic waiting to wait to move to wait. Eventually collapsing into deep, deep tiredness; tied to a sense of the inevitable: that no holiday never ends, but it begins yet another in an unending cycle of spend and debt, futility and dependency, knowing that regardless of how we feel, we will again pursue our muse; one of a madness of mindless consumption!
It is clearly a madness orchestrated by duplicitous greed, determined and poised to manipulate the idea of family and friends into benefitting corporate interests. To these interests, cosmic if not eternal in reach, were there enough profits to be made destroying planet Earth, they could live with that … especially ‘creating middle-class jobs’.
Therefore, among the best times to so declare ourselves determined to reclaim our humanity, and do so under the banner of our Canadian Citizens’ Independence is … at Christmas.
In short, make the Christmas season one in which to decide to do something radical. Really, really radical! Be thoughtful. Be kind. Thus, instead of spending more money on buying more stuff, we spend more time with family. With friends. With the friendless. To do something meaningful for others.
How many students, living away from home, and oft left lonely during these times of excess, would be joyous joining one’s family occasions in this time. Friendships made in these situations last beyond lifetimes. Sure, there will be the sometime risk, but when was life ever intended to only be one of convenience? And risk there is, and for many, for whom Christmas the season for suicides!
We could again also place value on sharing things we actually make with our own hands. Some could be creations of birds, fish, elephants, boats, like those possible with Origami. Learning and teaching such gifts, from personal experience, is a gift that keeps on giving. We could learn and teach our children again how to link brain with hands to create, and thus to grow more creative. Being creative has other compensatory sidelines.
People, especially children, learn how to avoid being bored, merely watching even more TV. And in the process, eating even more sugary stuff.
Watch children as they create with their hands gifts they use all year, and will pass on to their own children, too. As they create and play, they feel more peace within themselves. This peace reflects the new confidence growing into a sense of accomplishment. They will bug you to join them. Be glad, be enthusiastic accepting the small gifts they so want now, to give back. Entitlement becoming gratitude.
Words like ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ are not small words and sentiments. They build character.
So, for Christmas, we could do something really radical: write letters, preferably in cursive. There is something about giving, receiving and keeping something written or created by hand: a letter of appreciation to a teacher, a friend, a parent, a child, someone wronged, someone in need of reconciliation. Of course, doing anything radical has serious blowback! People, more likely close family: a spouse, a child, could have the ambulance on you. Or the police, the military!
Accused of not being a patriotic consumer, and with enough evidence to convict, in fact, exposed as someone who is still a human being, and even of enticing others likewise, you could be sentenced to walk, covered in plastic shopping bags, discount price tags, up and down Yonge Street … Christmas Eve!
Finally, who needs more plastic? Or to use more? Surely, not our globally-warmed environment. Who needs more stress? More expenses? More guilt? More reminders that you haven’t as yet purchased your share of gifts; not contributed your civic share to the economy? Who needs to assuage more deep-seated guilt?
Not I. As I clearly said at the beginning, this is all hypothetical. I have also done my share of Yonge Street. I am no martyr. And I have my list. Checking it twice as I head for a nearby dollar store. There, at least, one can find significant benefits. Among these, is that all that glitters is 21-carat brass.
And for the unwary recipient, from personal experience, both guilt-releasing, and gilt-edged!