Monday, November 25, 2002

Ahem. The notorious Canadian activist group Adbusters has named this Friday, 29 November, the 11th annual Buy Nothing Day. They're asking us to protest needless consumption by "stepping out of the consumer stream" — refusing to buy anything, anywhere — for 24 hours. Why this Friday? It's the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., & hence the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.

You don't have to share Adbusters' radical views to be disturbed by the bacchanalia of excessive spending that's come to be the true meaning of the holiday season. (I suspect Damien will pounce on me for this one.) But imagine if instead of paying inflated prices for useless junk — as so many of us are going to do over the next month, in order to satisfy social convention — we donated a fraction of that money to deserving charities, such as the Cyril Ross Home for children with AIDS, here in T&T. Of course I'm not against gift-giving — I probably like getting presents more than the average person — & of course I know the year-end spending surge gives the economy a salutary boost. But if it comes down to buying yet another shiny trinket for someone who already has everything he or she needs to be happy, or putting that trinket-money to genuinely good use, buying medical supplies for a sick child — doesn't the latter go inarguably further towards increasing the sum of happiness in the world?

Very interested in hearing what my half-dozen readers think of this....

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