Another way.

Year of the Snake Reflection: #5.


The malls are full of anxious sweat. The throngs are out and about for the final shopping rush, hunting the aisles with a tense urgency that's inimical to the spirit of giving. But another Christmas is possible. Another way of being is possible.

Reclaiming the ritual of this magical season – consciously and deliberately – is a radical, emancipatory choice. Since manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of the global carbon dioxide emissions, choosing to buy nothing this Xmas may give Gaia some much needed relief.

And if you still need to be convinced to consume less – consider that if we heat up just 4 degrees more, we will witness a total and irreversible collapse of human civilization. We're killing ourselves – but even as the denial about global warming is slowly breaking over us, we still choose – sheeplike – to join the madness in the malls. Consumerism is the opiate of the masses. Without significant rituals, we clamor to participate in the only ones we have, like the Christmas shopping binge, driven by our desire for meaning – of which our culture is devoid.

#BuyNothingXmas gets to the heart of this matter.

As the much awaited solstice arrives and Christmas nears, can you find the strength to break the addiction, to wake up from the nightmare . . . will you be brave enough to plant the seed of a new way of being? Make your life a demonstration, a defiance, a piece of art, a heroic journey. Start this Christmas – dare to gather your friends and family together and vow to do it differently this year.

This holiday season, just slow down. Feel time’s passage. Reflect on what's been. If people scoff at you – for extracting yourself from the race, for seeing it all for what it is – just shrug it off. As Jodi Dean remarks: “could not the greatest triumph of communicative capitalism be the ironic contempt, from left, right and center, for those who ask us to consider our own thoughts and actions with less distraction?” Should you come face-to-face with such a contemptuous grinch, keep your cool. No need for argumentation, pedantic preaching or derision. Hold quiet to your integrity. Show them how it's done.

If you're feeling saucy, why not conduct some of these #BuyNothingXmas experiments on yourself? Cut up your credit card. Meditate in a mall. Roam the streets wearing a mask waving your #BNXMAS sign, or stay at home to defy the madness. Try making your own gifts. Why not turn off the electricity, light a fire and use candles instead? If you've got equal parts courage and compassion, tell your family how you feel about them instead of what you want from them. Give gratitude for everything in your life – and give away everything you don't need. Forget charades and scrabble, invent your own game! Go for a walk in the brisk cold and remember what it is to be alive. Call up a friend from the past, forgive enemies, and better yet, invite them to Christmas dinner.

Bonne Chance!