“Black Friday” Inspiration

Yesterday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, I found myself at the Mall in Columbia, MD. I knew it was “Black Friday” , but I had no choice. Chai, my wife’s “lovely” dog, enlisted my glasses as a chew toy, and I was blind.

The mall was a madhouse, and maybe not just figuratively:

A 2006 Stanford University study has concluded that compulsive overspending or overshopping is a legitimate disorder that affects approximately 6% (17,000,000) of the U.S. population and that men and women suffer about equally.

It is unnerving that Americans cannot seem to do anything that does not involve buying something. We have developed a culture which tells us that everything there is of value comes to us from outside ourselves. We have accepted and embraced a consumerism that sells itself as normal, and the hard-earned byproduct of democracy and freedom. Recently, the government scolded that we are somehow less patriotic if we are not spending everything we can. The “Holiday Season”, is now more about “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” than Christmas. It has become more a time for gratuitous consumption than for religious worship or family gatherings.

While I was shaking my head at my brothers and sisters at the mall, it struck me that I am no different. I, like them, have fallen victim to the belief that fulfillment will come from outside rather than from within. This ailment reveals itself not only in our long Christmas lists and in our shop-till-you-drop Christmas shopping, but also in our lack of compassion and action for those less fortunate. This has got to change.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.
~~ Mahatma Gandhi

Whenever I start preaching (some might say whining) about what’s wrong, that quote always jumps to the front. I am stepping off to make a change.

Christmas will come whether I get everyone the right present or not. What I have to offer those I love (that is all of God’s children) is not the most advertised gift but the most loving gift, myself.

I pledge to give more gifts this Christmas, than ever before. In addition to simple material gifts, I will offer gifts of my time, my love, and my prayers. I will give anonymously, spiritually and gratefully.