Overstuffed Thanksgetting

“The world is too much with us, late and soon. Getting and spending we lay waste our powers. Little we see in nature that is ours. We have given our hearts away…” Wordsworth

If the Earth was a conscious being capable of feeling pain and loss, Black Friday would be the one day of the year it would dread the most. And the “holiday season” that stretches from November (increasingly starting the day after Halloween) through January 1 of the following year would be a dreaded time of general dysfunction and malaise that would every year leave the patient increasingly diminished, disordered and dis-eased.

If there is a poster child for the “old economy”, it is this one period of intentional over-spending, over-eating and general commercial gluttony. There was Black Friday. Now, there’s Black Thursday. What a waste to have people in their homes content with what they have when they could be scrumming behind the gated doors of Target before first light to buy STUFF! America, get STUFFING! After all, it’s ThanksGetting! Then GIFTmas!

Two Dozen Retailers Won’t Open on Thanksgiving—And They’re Shaming the Ones That Will | Money.com

Pope Francis is spot-on.

“Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.”

Anti-consumption Pope would rather you knit him something for Christmas | Grist

We are chewing up order and spitting out chaos from the planet’s energy stores, topsoil, rare earths, marine fisheries, temperate and tropical forests and living diversity. We do this mindlessly, for the sake of coming home with shopping trophies that were CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP! We think we’re feathering our nest for today, while we’re really, in total impact of our getting, taking from the stock of forests and soils that our survivors will rely on to, er, survive.

This is the OLD economy and it is most certainly dying, even as it gives us the illusion it is making us rich. If you follow very many of today’s tragedies, they trace back to our attempts to push the machinery harder in hopes that a little more will make us a little happier and make the world a safer, healthier and more resilient place. It is not working.

There will have to be a new way of doing things. It will not allow us to operate under the illusion that we can take without giving back. It will not pretend that growth, efficiency and profit are legitimate measures of well-being. It will have to be a progressive zero-growth steady state household of man-with-planet. There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, Marshall McLuhan has said. We are all crew. There is only so much oxygen and we have a long way to travel.

Is there such a thing as Prosperity Without Growth? There had better be.

Center for the Advancement of the Steady State

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Given up? Nah. She’d have gotten her back up the first time we bipeds used fire to destroy prairies or forests just to flush out a meal; or the first time we turned one kind of place outfitted according to Her wisdom and changed it into a place altogether different but better for just us–as if our species had all the answers. And all the power. Nature will bat last.

  2. In Canada, they have started opening for YOUR Black Friday! I hate that. First of all, our Thanskgiving is in October and second of all, these crazy, mad rushes to shop in sardine-like containers is totally beyond me.
    I have been gifting with homemade things for years and frankly, with each year, our families’ (my sisters and mine) have decided to stop the insanity and just have one small gift to play a game. Amazingly, those small gifts (must be $20 or less) are “fought” over with much laughter and fun. No more mountains of paper and unappreciated gifts from blasé kids…

    Mama Earth must be smiling at us.

  3. Thanks Getting and Giftmas; did you coin those? I had not seen them before, but I don’t get around much. Very good, sad to say.