Thursday, December 27, 2007

You may have heard the reports about sales this Christmas season. There is a great deal of disappointment in the retail sales numbers and concern about a possible recession. Our government, business leaders and media are very watchful the numbers. If you can measure things you have the potential for manipulation and control. We all want security for our families and communities, but whether or not we find some comfort in the data may be related to which financial data we pay attention to and there are some wonderful things that are beyond our capacity to measure and are thus neglected by financial analysts.

What would happen to the numbers if we as a nation decided to make our presents instead of buying them? Can there be an increase in national product that wouldn't be measured in the GNP? Is production of value only when the object of production is sold and has impact on the measurable economy? If someone plants a garden and enjoys the fruit of their own labor, the measurable economy shrinks by a small degree, and yet the life of the gardener and his or her community is made rich and full.

It might be scary for some that I would ask for a reduction in holiday spending on senseless consumer items... that we turn next season in greater numbers to lives as makers of our own gifts. It would be regarded as a sacrilege by those whose only contact with reality is to scan the numbers in the Wall Street Journal and who control our nation.

There is a very dark side to the consumer society that has been developed and sold to us. It lurks in our land-fills and is toxic and wasteful of our earth's resources. It has arisen with our disconnect from hands-on-physical reality as we buzz high-speed-caffeinated through life as pin-balls bouncing between our acquisitions, and ever flipped toward the newest thing.

If you want to know just a bit more, look at the latest issue of National Geographic. It tells the challenges and dangers of disposal of the vast quantities of consumer electronics and where things go when they no longer have the power to distract and hold our attention.

So, here we are with 362 shopping or making days until next Christmas. You can open an account and save your money so next year you can support the very gross national product during this important season. Or you can open an account of wonder and skill, developing your own life as a maker of immeasurable beauty, in an unmeasurable national product. The choice is ours and we choose the gifts. The ones we make ourselves may give for generations.

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