Sunday, 29 November 2015

Black Friday? This is one tradition we definately need to dump

Black Friday? To me this is an obscenity. It's bad enough that Christmas has been hijacked by capitalism and turned into the most grotesque celebration of consumerism, now we have a date specifically set aside to get as much dosh out of our wallets as possible.What is Christmas? What should it be? My favourite interpretation was by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is transformed by a meeting with three ghosts who show him the error of his selfish ways. The story is perhaps more powerful than we sometimes remember. Scrooge was actually prepared to see people starve in his selfish miserableness. We don't do that do we, when we buy young Hartley his new Xbox and flat screen TV do we? When we buy young Auriana the new saddle for her pony we are living the values of Christmas aren't we? No we are not. How many people we share a planet with will go hungry on Christmas day? How many are living in fear of their lives? How many are watching their children die of hunger and avoidable disease.

Homeless Action in Barnet logo
Black Friday. It struck me as I heard this just how ironic the title is. It is not the civilised west that will suffer this Christmas. When we see the slushy Christmas ads, we don't see the faces of the kids that are suffering in refugee camps, do we? We don't see the kids dying of avoidable diseases do we? But it's not our problem is it? Have you ever wondered why the vile and hateful message of ISIS has such resonance? Do we ever look at our own behaviour? Do we ever consider that launching into a festival of selfishness when half a world is starving, when millions are uprooted by wars and famines may just send a message to our brothers and sisters in the third world that we are corrupt and beyond redemption. It is probably a testament to the basic goodness of human nature that so few actually hate us. I reject all hateful creeds and organisations, but I really do believe we have to start addressing the injustices and inequalities that fuel their hatred. The really peverse thing is that the oil rich Arab states don't lift a finger to help building ever finer palaces for the Kings Sheiks and Princes who run the show. Where does the money that fund ISIS terror come from. I find it sickening that they use Western decadance as a tool, when their own decadence is far more extreme.

The awful truth is that if we weren't so selfish and if we were prepared to share just a little bit more of the pie, everyone in the world could eat and everyone could have access to basic medicins. The right wing, billionaire owned press rant against foreign aid. They tell us that charity should begin at home and we shouldn't be feeding the third world when people in the UK are living in relative poverty. The UK government is committed to giving up 1.7% of our GDP in foreign aid. This is a figure that the press object to. What is never mentioned in these press articles, written by semi literate commentators paid huge sums by billionaires to brainwash us is the fact we throw away over 25% of the food we buy. How can we object to giving away 1.7%, when we throw away 25%? Then there is energy consumption. We waste over 50% of the energy we produce. It literally goes up in smoke.

Why do we go so crazy buying things we don't need? I think we need to reclaim Black Friday. I have a suggesting. Why don't we make Black Friday a real Black Friday. Why don't we turn off all of the heating, appliances (apart from the Fridge) and electric lighting in our homes for 25 Minutes (which is 1.7% of a day). Skip a meal and donate the cost to a charity that is involved in helping people in the third world. If a typical meal at home costs £2 and everyone in the country did this, it would buy a basic Christmas meal for 200 million people. Maybe you can afford a bit more than £2?

Of course it isn't going to be Black Friday for another 363 days. So why not do it anyway. And as for the point that the rich press baron lackeys make? Charity begins at home. Well that is also true. If you are in the London Borough of Barnet, there are several foodbank and homeless projects. If you want to donate to the Colindale Foodbank, the Sacred Heart Church in Mill Hill is doing a collection next weekend. You don't have to be a member of any religion to contribute, the Church is just a drop off point. They don't need Pasta, tea bags or baked beans at the moment. I'd suggest that as it's Christmas, you could be a bit creative. Non perishable foods and sanitary products inc disposable nappies are welcome. Another great local project is Homeless Action Barnet. On Tuesday night I did a sleepover as a helper at John Keble Church in Mill Hill which is part of the night shelter project. Our efforts meant that fifteen people didn't have to sleep out on a cold wet night. We really as a society should do more.

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