Festive holidays are wonderful because they create the time and space for us to do the things we all long to do—join with family and friends to celebrate life, love, and each other.
Thanksgiving honours the abundance of yearly harvest and it’s a fun way to bid fare-thee-well to the growing season, settle into autumn, and prepare for winter. The holiday unites and creates community, gives pause to the whirl of busy days, and inspires reflection. Moments of deep gratitude and emotive recognition of one's blessings can be transformative and relaxing.
We gain perspective on what’s important to us and we appreciate life in a more profound way. We contrast our opulence with the scarcity that most people around the world are faced with and question whether material possessions truly do bring happiness (and deep down inside, we all know they don’t).
How ironic that the shopping frenzy of Black Friday often follows mere hours after the quietude of gratitude and that Cyber Monday simply encourages an extension of the shopping craze to include those who prefer to buy online. And stranger still is that the weekend following American Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the shopping season for winter holidays that are similarly intended to honour time spent with family and friends—these are the most precious gifts that money simply can’t buy.
Black Friday seems to draw out a primal urge in people to amass as many resources as possible before others (your competitors!) grab it first. This might be understandable in circumstances where people are struggling to survive and are fighting for access to water, sustenance, and shelter. But once again, the irony is that affluent people, who already have an abundance of resources, are the most prominent Black Friday enthusiasts.
The “harvest” from Black Friday doesn’t enhance anyone’s survival in any way and in fact, it sometimes jeopardizes it.
Black Friday encourages exploitation on every level. Buying cheap wares almost unequivocally means workers don’t get fair wages and environmental stewardship and responsibility are neglected. Our consumer-driven society functions in a rather lop-sided way: the majority of the world’s population labours in menial tasks for token wages and resources are extracted unsustainably in order to facilitate the convenient lifestyles of the fortunate.
The fantastic news is that “The Fortunate” are becoming more aware of, and sensitive to, economic and social disparity around the world. Compassion and gratitude are overriding mindless desires for material excess, and our perspectives and consumer habits are starting to change.
The world is now asking for goods that are produced sustainably and that promote economic equality. We are becoming ethical consumers. And we will all benefit from our collective mindfulness.
In response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Fair Tuesday movement was born. It’s intended to inspire conscious, ethical shopping and to raise awareness of how every single purchase can have profound and far-reaching effects on people, wildlife, ecosystems, and communities across the Planet.
To show our support, Canadians have likewise launched Giving Tuesday, which encourages similar values. And the movement is catching on. Canadians are known worldwide for their compassion, philanthropy, and solidarity. I think Giving Tuesday gives us all another means through which we can reach out and give to others.
One ethical choice begets another ethical choice begets another. Chain reactions work all ways—they can create cascading and synergistic effects that lead to economic and environmental dearth or that encourage environmental sustainability and fair trade.
How will you touch the lives of people and wildlife around the world?
Look for products that are Fair Trade, Organic, Non-GMO, Cruelty-Free, and Eco-Friendly when you’re holiday shopping. Celebrate your blessings and help ensure that others are likewise blessed with the fair treatment and financial security they deserve.