Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Add Light and Stir

Hear ye, hear ye! Mercantile and personal greed meet in the newest American reality-show, “Black Thanksgiving; the pre-pre-pre-Holiday Sale Event of the Year!”

This can only be further proof of the madness of crowds, but it also confirms something I have thought for many years: I live in a sick and dying culture.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned people camping outside department stores on a holiday, in order to fight their way in to fight over bargain-priced mass-produced (in China) consumer junk. But, this is the twenty-first century, and here we are, with tent cities emerging in shopping malls, days before the National Thanksgiving Holiday.

Skewed priorities? Understatement. There is no more pitiful commentary on the American public than that it has been bred and trained to shop and spend. The appropriate Pavlovian response to “bargain pricing” is buy more.

The camping shoppers are a horrible contrast to the tragedy of homelessness. The shopping centers will be providing port-a-potties and security for encamped shoppers. Homeless will be rousted from their encampments and charged with loitering, unless they can find a shelter that has room for them.

Thanksgiving is an American Holiday; oddly enough, it is about giving thanks. (One would think that self-evident.) One can set aside the history of the occasion, but not the intention. This holiday is not about overeating, watching football games, and sitting around, but if it is not about those things, then it is certainly not about shopping.

Truly, we should be giving thanks each and every day for the many blessings that we are lucky to enjoy. So many people live the delusion of self-sufficiency and the caricature of “self-made” that it is hard to consider that we actually have no hand in most of the blessings we receive. Yes, yes, yes, we work and we earn, but we are constantly rewarded—even when we do not deserve to be—with beauty we have not created, plenty we have not earned and kindnesses we take for granted.

The Holiday of Thanksgiving should be about thanks, yes, of course. But more it is about giving. The thanks resides appropriately in giving, or in giving back. Said another way, to paraphrase Patrick Dennis’ larger-than-life “Auntie Mame”, life is a (pot luck) banquet, where everyone brings something to the party, each according to their ability or talent. It’s not about me, it’s not about you; it is about all of us, together, giving a little here, doing a little there, to keep the whole train on the tracks and running smoothly down the line.

The blackness of Black Friday (now turned into Black Thanksgiving and even Black Wednesday, in many places) is all about balancing the end-of-year financial books of capitalism. This blackness is indeed blacker than black; it belies the truth that life is not money. Life and living require the giving (with thanks) and receiving (with thanks) of integral use and the attendant reciprocity of generous renewal. The greater American public is really good about using, not so accomplished when it comes to generosity or renewing, much less with properly cleaning up after itself.

We need to do something about this blackness. We need to add light, generously and to taste; we need to add light and stir.

How do you bring light? You bring light by giving, generously, audaciously, unexpectedly, continuously. Smiles, hugs, food, gifts, right-of-way, all of these gifts and more  are waiting to be given and graciously received by someone. Our better natures need a good diet, light and exercise!

Are you the light of the world? Prove it. We need your light now, more than ever. Light the lamp of your soul and pour it out generously. Show us all how to dispel the blackness of our soulless society.

Hear the words of the old Rolling Stones song:

May the good lord shine a light on you,
Make every song you sing your favorite tune;
May the good lord shine a light on you,
Warm like the evening sun.

May your Thanksgiving holiday be filled with thanks and with giving and with the beautiful light you bring to share at the banquet of life.

May the good lord shine a light on you, so you can shine your light on the world!

As a descendant of those families that brought you the Thanksgiving holiday, in advance, I give you thanks for all that light you are about to recklessly strew about.


Shine A Light lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, ABKCO Music Inc.

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