It’s pretty hard to deny that 2012 has been an amazing year. Around this time last year the Occupy movements started and since then there have been brief moments in which it actually seems like Americans are starting to wake up and realize that our way of life, our American Dream, is not sustainable. It seems like more and more people are starting to realize the ideals of consumerism, capitalism, and materialism do not serve us; in fact, they serve to enslave those who embrace them. This seemingly new level of awareness is surely the greatest miracle of 2012.
I went out on Black Friday. Mostly as an observer, I didn’t make any significant purchases. The majority of my holiday shopping was done before Thanksgiving and online. What I saw yesterday was nearly enough to send me into a tailspin of depression. I made a conscious decision to spend the majority of my money at small local businesses. For someone as frugal as I am, it is challenging to pass up bargains, I’ll admit it. The people who market the Black Friday sales know that too. I suspect they tend to not like people like me, one who can make an aware decision to say no to things I might want to say yes to.
One of the reasons this Black Friday is significant is the strike by Wal-Mart workers who wish to earn enough money to live without relying on welfare and food stamps.
This strike matters because it comes on the heels of an election in which the American people told the Republican party that we are not going to tolerate the greed of the privileged few who, but for the indentured servants who sustain them, would have no wealth or power.
Thankfully, I live in a city that seems to detest Wal-Mart. There are only two in Portland that I am aware of. The suburbs tolerate them, but the urban folk seem to like a bit more variety and substance.
My daughter asked me why we should boycott Wal-Mart. So I explained to her that I cannot in good conscience contribute to an organization whose core values differ so greatly from my own. That is saying a lot coming from me, a person whose personal philosophy is so liberal that do no harm is about as specific as it gets.
Wal-Mart’s values offend me on the most fundamental level. And I find that it’s even bigger than that. There is a conservative mindset in this country, one that has not become an overwhelming majority, thank God, that is so vile and repulsive that it goes against every single thing I believe in.
The reason I can never shop at Wal-Mart is the same reason I can never be a Republican as I currently understand that party. Too much hate. To love money more than people is a truly empty way to live.
Which brings me back to yesterday, Black Friday 2012. When I was out taking care of my errands, mostly buying groceries and pet supplies, I saw masses of empty people. People who lack awareness that anyone else on the planet even matters. It wasn’t always out-and-out aggression, though I did see some of that, rather it was a hollow quality. People appeared to be drugged or under some kind of spell. They were physically present, but somewhere else entirely mentally and spiritually. Honestly, it was a profoundly illuminating, if not completely disturbing, experience for me.
In recent years I am becoming more and more of a minimalist and have almost an aversion to having too much stuff. Even so, I do like to have nice things. However, just as there are few things that are important enough to make me want to go into debt, there is absolutely nothing that I could get from a place like Wal-Mart that is worth exploiting a fellow human being. Nothing.
It is my sincere wish that American society continues on a path of enlightenment, seeing that greed and consumerism are not the way. Love and recognition of our sameness are.
It’s time the greedy super rich realize the things they have done and are continuing to do to acquire wealth and power are no longer working. The system that is currently in place cannot be sustained, that seems obvious. How those changes happen will be largely determined by how ferociously the wealthy intend to fight for the means of oppressing their fellow citizens. If history is any indicator, this may not end peacefully.
My hope is to bring some level of awareness to these issues that makes sense to average, intelligent people. If the world really is a reflection of the collective consciousness, things like racism, homophobia, greed, and hate, cannot continue to exist once we as people are thinking better, higher thoughts.
2012 has been an eye-opening year. A year in which people all over the world recognized that something needs to change or we’re doomed as a species and a planet. That is one way of interpreting the Mayan prophecies. It’s the end of an era for a particular perspective. We’ve been given new information, new ways of looking at things. And if some of the most basic theories of quantum physics are true, looking at things differently cannot fail to change our world.
Right now, I’m cautiously optimistic.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ~John Lennon