Mark over at Suicide of the West has been following what is turning into the great American rush for Christmas. I posted a comment to an earlier post of his and Mark decided to include my comment in the post. Here is the comment I made to his post where he challenges us to join in on the great Buy Nothing Day:
... as an owner of a small family-owned retail store and the principle person responsible for our store’s advertising I often feel cursed because as a student of René Girard I know the power of mimetic desire - I just don’t have the big huge advertising budget. I also know that all those on Madison Ave to the halls of Wally World’s advertising department are experts at getting people to lust over a … a … you name it, a vacuum cleaner, for extreme example. Remember that mimetic desire relates to people craving … fill in the blank, anything (it is ALL about the craving and not about the stuff).
I also am aware that the folks who create the ads are in need of a pay check as much as the next guy. And the board of directors often have their careers on the line if they aren’t deciding on best ways to improve the bottom-line numbers. Many shareholders have regularly invested important savings into these companies and need solid returns to help their retirement. And the stock brokers need successful businesses to buy and sell… and so goes the modern day American dream.
Girard from “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” pg 191: “Because of the simple fact that we live in a world whose structure is based on mimetic processes and victim mechanisms, from which we all profit without knowing it, we are all accessories to the Crucifixtion, persecutors of Christ.”
As a student of Girard I also am aware that the only saving grace to all this craziness that always, always, always leads to violence is (on-going) conversion. Anything short of conversion continues to accept the sacrifice of lives. Business tycoons to educators and a whole lot of us in-between simply refuse to believe this fact - our need for conversion. We believe that if we simply put stock in social programs, good will efforts or stop-gap measures we can be a civil, nice and good people. Conversion is for the fool and religious and it doesn’t have much to do with my life, and it certainly won’t put Christmas presents under the tree.
So yes, raise the banner pointing the crowd in some less frazzled horizontal direction but until we get them looking vertically we are only masking over the violence.