Friday, November 25, 2005

Day Of The Lemming

If yesterday was "Turkey Day" today is most definitely "Lemming Day"; that is, the "biggest shopping day of the year," when shoppers submissively line up before dawn, assertively stalk parking spaces the rest of the day, and aggressively race each other to be first to throw their hard-earned money at those who ride herd in what has become the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

The mainstream media, in the spirit of the season, also conformed. Just about every story I watched this evening up until the weather segments covered shoppers huddled in the cold at store portals chomping their collective bit and showed crowds tearing through stores and crushing one another at cash registers. The dash of the lemmings has grown fairly predictable and mundane after so many years, so I'm still not sure how the mainstream coverage rose to the level of "man bites dog." Even scenes of people shoving and mowing over individuals in front of them at Wal-mart have lost their shock-value given the perennial commercio-darwinian flocking behavior of post-Thanksgiving shoppers. Greed stimulates the seasonal status quo; and that blunts its atrocity.

However, this year I re-discovered shock-value in atrocity from an unexpected source: those who claim to be the opponents of rampant consumer culture. I received an e-mail from Sojourners (who are also linked in the "Links That I Plug" box in the righthand column). That e-mail eschewed the "competing messages that bombard you with great sales and must-buys." It also claimed that Sojourners supports Adbuster's "Buy Nothing Day" as "a way to reflect on our participation in consumer culture." It encouraged me to buy nothing today, which I have not.

But here's the part that seriously sent my steam-engine chugging:
But tomorrow...as you think of friends and family this season, send a great gift (at a modest price) that makes a statement! When you choose a gift from Sojourners, every purchase helps sustain our growing mission.
Then they proceeded to offer me posters of "Gandhi's 7 Deadly Social Sins" for $9.95 and a "Swords Into Plowshares" CD for $15.00.

I am completely aghast and saddened that a group that is supposed to represent an alternative to consumer culture is rooting around at the same hog trough as the crowd. Despite my admiration for Jim Wallis, I am so disappointed in Sojourners' opportunistic pander to the mainline and leftwing Christian market niche--on a day that should have been more of a Sabbath--that I have half-a-mind to take their link down.

To cover their marketing ploy with a nod to "Buy Nothing Day" is treachery (not that I was a zealot of "Buy Nothing Day." I just was not motivated to get out and swim through everyone else just to save a few bucks when I could stay home with my family). What the hell happened to the need to "reflect on our consumer culture"? Say it ain't so-journers!

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