The holiday season is coming around. For many, it may be a chance to take some time to spend with family and friends. It’s always nice to have time to catch a breath from work. For others that work in retail, the airline industry or transportation, this time of year will be anything but restful, with long hours at work.
Everywhere you look, the holiday season has become synonymous with shopping. We are bombarded from every corner with advertisements for the latest video game consoles, gadgets, trendy clothes and more.
The yearly ritual to go shopping, known as Black Friday, has been steadily pushed earlier and earlier by the corporations. Many retailers, including Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us and Best Buy will be having sales on Thanksgiving. That means that millions of workers will be called into work and torn away from their families on one of the few days that people set aside to spend time with each other. Not only that, hours after expressing thanks for the things that they are grateful for, people will run around stores looking for discounted goods. In some cases in recent years, this frenzy has developed into physical fights over everything from televisions to underwear. Some people have even lost their lives in these brawls and stampedes.
Many of us are struggling financially or have very little savings. Despite this, society is telling us that if we want to show love to our kids and families, we need to open our wallets and spend money that we don’t have. Will we begin the new year in debt, if not deeper in debt? How many of these gifts will be enjoyed by the person we gave them to or will they end up forgotten on some shelf? We are supposed to think that love and happiness are things that we can buy. But what item has brought real happiness to our lives? Imagine what it would look like if we moved from a ‘thing-oriented’ society into a ‘person-oriented’ society as Martin Luther King Jr. advocated.
Much of the economy is geared towards selling stuff during this time of year. The health of the economy is largely dependent on us spending money that we don’t have on things that we don’t need and don’t seem to bring meaningful joy to our lives. If this is the case, maybe we should begin to ask who this economic arrangement is really serving. It is set up to serve the super wealthy. Rather than putting resources into serving our needs, like providing affordable housing, healthcare, or adequate employment, the wealth of society flows to the bank accounts of the rich.
But this time could be ours and we don’t need to let the corporations determine how we spend it. Already, there are many people who skip the shopping and use this time to volunteer helping others in their community who are less fortunate. We could use the time we have to go out to a park or museum with our families and friends.
We have a right to live life to its full potential all year-round. We have a right to see concerts, enjoy art, travel to new places, and spend quality time with family and friends for 12 months a year.
This kind of world is not a fantasy. Working people produce everything from the clothing we wear to the food we eat. We build everything from cars to skyscrapers. We run everything from healthcare to public transportation. We generate all of the wealth of this society. Why shouldn’t we be the ones to run it ourselves? That way we could bring about the kind of world that we know is both necessary and possible.