Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear? Do You See What I See?

Note: The traditional Christmas song, Do You Hear What I Hear? was written and composed by Noel Regney and Gloria Baker back in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a plea for peace. Perhaps we should pause and reflect on the song’s message for our current need not only for peace in the world but for healing from turmoil and chaos of the times. Pause. Push back. Breathe. Meditate on what is really important.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The season of Thanksgiving is melding into the season of Light. What I considered to be the most pure of our national holidays seems to be turning into a prep and fuel for one our darker sides, Black Friday, aka, Dark Friday.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

Dark Friday seems to be bigger and greedier than ever. Malls and big box stores are opening earlier and earlier. News reports an estimated 1 in 4 of us participated in Dark Friday. Retailers report the Dark Friday phenomenon (which now begins on Thanksgiving Day) as “so successful” and “so positive.” For our nation whose economy is built on consumption, this may seem like good news. “It’s a good move to try to get shoppers to spend sooner, before they run out of money,” says Burt Flickinger III, president of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. Yet, words like jammed, beeline, hoards, rowdy, frenzy, vengeance, storm, backlash, snap-up, tased and injuries appeared frequently in media reports about our behavior on Dark Friday.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

One comment I heard in a news report on “Dark Friday” was a shopper who was asked why he was participating in Dark Friday, “It’s traditional!” This maybe where the problem lies, some traditions need to be broken. Some habits need to be changed. Bad habits need to be replaced.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The Dali Lama was asked what surprised him the most. “Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

Many question the motives behind Occupy Wall Street. Maybe OWS is the reaction to Michael Lewis’s, The Big Short or Andrew Ross Sorkin’s, Too Big To Fail. Both detail the toxic culture of Wall Street, taking advantage of unregulated greed and political “buy-ability.” Perhaps OWS is the seeding for our own Arab Spring. Maybe OWS is a call to live an examined life, a life of giving rather than getting. Just maybe OWS could be about changing Dark Friday into a day that reflects truly living.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?


BJGwood said...

Amen Dave. I believe that our society as a whole has been so consumed by consumerism that they are losing the ability to be peaceful.

The other day a 7 yr old came in to my office for a new patient exam. She was so enthralled by her new Sony Ericsson xPeria Play smartphone (with unlimited data package) that I had to ask her to put it down twice so that I could perform an exam on her dentition. A 7 yr old!

The angels came to the shepherds, on a hill, in the country. Not to the kings in the middle of a bustling city.

Oh may we experience that peace again.

adventure_coach said...

Since our conversation, I've thought more about the Occupy movement and media's vilification of the protestors. Much of American culture, and sadly the Church as well, is dictated by looking for differences instead of commonalities and problems rather than solutions. The minute someone has a different opinion, it's more common to disconnect relationally from them because we don't like what they have to say. What if our response to someone who protests (anything, not just the protestors of the Occupy movement), was to invite them to be heard, connect relationally and not divorce them from relationship but to find a way to continue, engage, talk, listen, ask questions, etc.

Carrpe Diem! said...

Suggest/recommend reading "This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement by Sarah van Gelder and YES Magazine published by Berrett-Koehler.

This book gives the history that lead up to OWS as well what needs to change. The book helps the reader to understand that OWS unlike the Tea Party is not about demands, but about conversation, inclusiveness and horizontal democracy.

Because OWS is practicing non-violence, the media tends not to cover OWS or cover the random poor behavior of some supposably associated with OWS. After all violence sells news! Naomi Klein's speech to OWS on 10/6/11 and also published in the Wall Street Journal on 10/8/11 (page 45-49) captures the essence of this movement.