As we round the last corner of the final lap of the “Holiday Season” I find myself caught up in another of my usual conundrums. A thing, or situation, that pulls me, simultaneously, in opposing directions. Something that's a good deal more visceral than a simple ambivalence.
There is, on the one hand, the celebration of the birth of an ideal man; where miracle, unquestioned love, forgiveness, and sacrifice, come together as a means to help us keep that one candle lit against the darkness. Whether he was real or not, or who his father may have been, was never, in my mind, the most important aspect. That aspect resides in the fact that miracles, and love, and forgiveness and sacrifice, for that matter, are all real. The mere fact that the last three items in that list occur at all proves the first. For each is, in its own way, a little miracle; especially as we grow ever more materialistic.
Most of the best popular culture surrounding this season (few though they may be) serve to try and remind us of those few little miracles, for which, of course, we are provided an emotional foundation for giving. And giving, in the sincere, and very personally direct manner, that those previously mentioned qualities embody, does occur, in spite of the increasing disconnect of commercial life.
With all of the advertising that occurs, saturating every part of our so called reality, ever earlier, the other side of the equation hardly needs much reiteration. Hyper consumption goes balls out for one last orgy of shopping that, even allowing for locational outsized spike up or down, shoots an ever bigger wad of counters into the server streams. There are, after all, at the very least, more of us doing it every year.
With this do the masters of capital go to the new year with a good deal more than tidings of good cheer. For not only has a significant portion of the material output been translated back into more than was used to create it, the wage slaves have created more debt, and with that, even more counters to count on for the future. The treadmill that turns by the running of those making more to consume more continues. Add in the Sheer numbers of producers, and the competition thus inherent, and you get the constant acceleration of each cycle, with science and ingenuity as part of the fuel, and or, oxidizer.
We witness the consequences of this process every day on the internet, and the various other media. More energy is pumped into social, and natural, systems than they are able to adequately handle. The weakest links fly apart at every turn and there is less and less time to ponder much of anything, let alone rebuild stability, or renewing structure. We lay waste to not only previously existing stable systems, which were miracles of selection in themselves, but to the dwindling hope that more will occur.
In all of this, however, let us not forget that it is more than our need for a means of livelihood that keeps the peddle to the metal. A good portion of this outrageous make and break is there for that extra bit. That really extra bit that goes beyond reasonable return for a risk taken on. The kinds of return that make accumulations of counters to rival the numbers of stars.
I mention this because consumption is not going to go away no matter what we may do as an alternative to Capitalism. The best we can hope for is to look for ways to do it with as much moderation as we can manage. As well as to look for ways to do it thoughtfully, with generous portions of love, forgiveness, and sacrifice. Giving back as much as is possible to all of the systems, natural and otherwise, that sustain us; keeping a sense of wonder as we ponder each little miracle that a more connected life might provide. If we can find a way to do that we will create a gift that will truly keep on giving.