Buy Nothing Day is a day of protest against consumerism. It is held the day after Thanksgiving, concurrent to Black Friday. In my opinion, the protest accomplishes nothing because shopping fills a void that makes us briefly happy. If you asked me, I would say, “Open the stores and let people take whatever they want.” Once we realize what animals we are, we might seriously consider doing something about our nature.
On the one hand, I am glad people have so much money to spend. On the other hand, the spending seems redundant to me. If I need something, I do not wait for a shopping day to buy it. If I can wait for a shopping day to buy it, I probably do not really need it.
In other words, I think these days mostly benefit the store owners and perhaps the economy in general, but I do not think the shoppers benefit. I am sure they have no real need for most of the things they buy on Black Friday and other such days.
Shopping days may help people forget the emptiness inside, but if they really enjoyed life, they would not need it. Worse yet, buying things we do not need gives very little and very short-lived pleasure, and the void that remains after it leaves grows even deeper and darker.
If we want a lasting pleasure, a delight that grows the more we have of it, and where even its absence is enjoyable, we need a very different kind of pleasure. The only pleasure that can give us such a feeling is the pleasure from giving to people we love.
Think of a mother and her children: The more they have, the happier she is. When she wants to give them something but cannot, she does not suffer the way we do when we do not have something we want. She simply waits for the moment when she can meet them and shower them with her love.
It seems unreasonable that we should feel this way about strangers, but we feel them as strangers only because we do not realize how intertwined we all are. What if you met a complete stranger whom you didn’t like, but after some time you realized that the stranger was actually your long lost brother or sister?
Our closeness to each other is hidden from us, but it is even closer than kinship. We are literally the same body, the same organism whose organs are unaware that they are connected.
We can feel our connectedness, but we must be willing to feel it. Currently, we hide behind walls of alienation and coldness, presumably to protect ourselves from strangers. In truth, we deny ourselves the power of our connectedness and the joy it brings.
Gradually, as problems grip the world, we will learn that we are connected whether we like it or not. When we acknowledge our connectedness, we will discover that it is not a curse, but a blessing.
We will discover that this is where our true strength lies and that only our ego has prevented us from seeing it. Then we will learn to enjoy giving, and Black Fridays will be but faint memories of dark times when shopping was our definition of happiness.