So, here it is again, Christmas time! That time when the stores and roads are full of people with a crazed look about them. I was a little surprised when I saw a sign the other day that said "Think Globally, Shop Locally,” and again upon seeing more of these signs around.
So I wonder, does shopping locally mean buying at the local store, objects made in China, Korea, Australia, Peru, and around the world? I agree with the sentiment of keeping our "voting dollars" in our own communities, and not sending them off to an international corporations' headquarters someplace nonexistent to our experience.
By shopping at the huge chains like, all the fast food and depot (or is that despot?) stores, we may get a better price but what is the real cost? We should support our local merchants if we care about the quality of our local community. Large and impersonal corporations certainly do not seem to respond to a local community's desires unless it makes good publicity or a good bottom line.
The real question is do we ever look behind our new improved whatever’s and see the direct results of our consuming? If you care to look you can find, without much looking, strip-mining, clear-cutting, air and water pollution, and basic degradation of what were once living and vibrant environments. We may believe that it is not happening in our back yard, but it is, and it is happening to supply our demands for what we think that we need.
Try looking around yourself, at all that has been made by man, and imagine how where you live would look if all of the raw materials came from within 20 miles. Or on the other side, try and imagine what the city where you live looked like one or two hundred years ago, including any wildlife. The materials all came from somewhere.
It is also a matter of sustainability. We can create and build using "renewable" resources. We just appear to be consuming the principal as well as the interest, when it comes to our environments.
Perhaps the signs should read, "Think Globally and Buy with Conscience." Think before you shop. Consider what are you supporting with this purchase.
Are you supporting living wages for whoever made your product? Is the product rebuildable or recyclable, or is it destined for the landfill as wasted and now toxic resources? Are the once living environments in the new form improving or adding to life, or is it just more stuff?
Buy the best that you can afford, which is built to last for a long time. Do not buy anything "disposable." Ask yourself what is being created or destroyed in another part of our country or world to produce it, and do you really need it? In our society it is next to impossible to live without leaving "footprints." How big are yours going to be?
I hope that we all get a chance to step back a little from all of the expectations around the giving, or receiving of presents, in order to feel a little of the magic that the season and life has to offer. It is the “intangibles” of friendship and community which most of us value and long for, which are our real wealth, and not the “stuff”
I hope that we all get the chance to just hang out with friends, family, or people whom we don't even know, and just be happy to be alive. All the material possessions in the world won't make us happy. Check out a child sometime. The awe and wonder of being alive are still here all around us if we but look and allow ourselves to “grow down” a little bit.
Leave the T.V. off, don't get drunk for a change, don't worry about the perfect ten-course meal, or cleaning all the dustbunnies in your home, and go for a walk, spend some time with a child, talk to your neighbor whom you still don't know after five years, go out in nature, take a sandwich to a hungry stranger, be creative and do something different for a change. Life is too short, be alive while we can.
And do not, do not, do not wait until tomorrow to get honest and real with yourself and everyone else in your life. Tomorrow does not always come. This is a limited time engagement which we are all just passing through here folks.
If I am lucky beyond my wildest dreams, my footprints will be the memory of kind words, of warmth and caring, for really the presents and material gifts we give, pale in comparison to our love and time together.
Perhaps the signs should really say "Think Globally and Give Your Love and Service?" Here's to us making the world a better place for ALL.
Here are a couple interesting links:
Narayanan Krishnan, an Indian man feeding the poor
Annie Leonard's “The Story Of Stuff”