Americans are among the least vacationing people of the industrialized world.
So when our few national holidays roll around there's a gigantic sigh of relief as we gain access to a rare day in which to purportedly either celebrate the meaning of said holiday, relax, get away, or drink ourselves into oblivion.
Sometimes all of the above.
The other allegedly great and essentially American experience meant to be indulged in with a frenzy is the HOLIDAY BLOW OUT SALE! It's gotten so bad that about two weeks ago I received one of the most misguided and ridiculous holiday marketing postcards ever to cross my desk:
We're celebrating the Memorial Day Holiday Two-Weeks Early to Save YOU 25% NOW!
One of the biggest elements of the conservation lifestyle begins in our minds, with our intentions. It requires that we throw off the shackles of our culture's worst excesses, its basest expressions, and its most sordid attempts to co-opt all experiences, including our holidays, toward shopping and consuming ends.
Parting you from your cash to prop up the ubiquitous presence of consumer culture is the Holy Grail of business objectives. The main way it's done is through manufactured need and manufactured desire.
From planned obsolescence to peer pressure (you've just GOT TO have it) to limited time offers to the new ethos of "experiences" rather than stuff, businesses seek to survive not only with profits intact, but always growing. Heaven forbid the monkey on our back in the form of their quarterly reports.
But can we survive with it?
Don't get me wrong. I'm pro-business and pro-trade in the ordinary senses of mutually beneficial and acceptably fair human interchange. And I think there are great business opportunities in some of the things needed for conservation. That's ironic, I know, but at least it keeps trade in motion, people working and so on.
I have my limits, however, when business actions pollute the Vital Commons (the essentials for healthy life, air, water, land), forcing externalized costs on all of us and materially damaging our way of life.
I'm equally intolerant when corporate culture pollutes the Humane Commons, fouling human dignity with insidious pleas to remain shackled to our lowest selves through conspicuous, excessive, damaging consumption of non-necessities with grave hidden costs.
At no time is this pollution as evident as when we Americans are supposedly getting our few precious holidays from the corporate culture that defines both big business and so much of the rest of our lives. Yet that's when the corporate assertion comes out in full force. That's why we remember George Washington best for his awesome used car sales opportunities. Or Jesus for his DOORBUSTER sales.
This holiday weekend revolt against the notion that you're supposed to upgrade a perfectly good refrigerator, computer, lawn mower, or any other item for the next, best gotto have it version. Reject the notion that you're a loser if you're not jetting off to the Caribbean or sidling the family's collective bellies up to the all-you-can-eat buffet.
This holiday weekend, embrace your weekend for you and yours. Live simply, truly, deeply. Love each other. Connect. Do that thing you've put off forever that you've been just dying to try. Learn to knit. Ride a bike. Turn off the computer and read a book. Walk. Pull weeds. Plant seeds. Yawn.
Relax and remember who you are beyond the role you play and your place in the economic food chain.
The root of the meaning for holiday is holy-day. Make it your holy day, and forget about tithing to the great American religion of capitalism.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List
Lindsay's List will return on May 31, after a nice holiday weekend.