From Black Friday to Buy Nothing Day - Subverting the Consumer Culture

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_jpG6kv6Pw&w=480&h=385]

Friday, November 26 will be celebrated by most as a way to get the Christmas shopping season kicked-off. A lesser known way to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving is to pay homage to Buy Nothing Day. It's not that complicated. It just means buying nothing as a way to say "No" to our crazy consumer culture. There is a Christian movement that has some affinity with BND called the Advent Consipiracy where the invitation is to give "presence" instead of presents.

It was almost three years ago at the end of 2007 that we devised our own little conspiracy to subvert the status quo and explore more life-giving patterns of consumption. That plan turned into a year of consuming everything local, used, homegrown, or homemade. At the time we felt so stuck that it was hard to see that there are different ways of going at these rhythms of life. But after only a couple of months we realized that what we had thought was our fated destiny was actually a choice, and that our consumer ways need not be inevitable. At the time I said:

One lesson we're learning is that our previous patterns of consumption seemed so unchangeable. It was just the way the world was. Everybody did it that way. It was hard to imagine that there were other ways of doing things. We're learning as a family that all habits, patterns, and practices of consumption are changeable. It might take 5 months to feel comfortable with them, but nothing need be inevitable or set in stone.

Here's and excerpt from one of my favorite Wendell Berry poems to give inspiration for your own experiments and ways of living that don't compute with the status quo.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Libertation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns....

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.