Today is, so I've heard, "Buy Nothing Day." I have no objection to this, but then I'm not a shopper at any time, much less on the biggest shopping day of the year. In a way, it's easy for me to support Buy Nothing Day, like it's easy for me to participate in Turn Off Your Television campaigns, or embargoes of shrimp. That's the easy part. The hard part is thinking it through and making it a consistent and comprehensive part of one's life -- the "it" here being any sort of value.
Buying, by itself, is not a value; consumerism is a value, as is abstemiousness. And what drives the buying? What beliefs lie behind our behavior? Which I think is a weakness in some of these programs. To be fair, it's a problem with Lent, too. We give up chocolate, but why? Simply from an overarching sense that Chocolate is BAD?
I'm sure the hope behind all of these fasts is to get us to think beyond the day or season and to change our behaviors. Not just to buy nothing today, but to recognize how much we buy and ask ourselves whether we need to do that or not.
I bought a newspaper today and so I cannot say that I participated in Buy Nothing Day fully, at least not in practice. But I do think that I felt the spirit of the thing as I recognized my purchase and asked myself questions about it. I didn't buy nothing, but for today at least I didn't buy mindlessly.