I’m not here to wax political, only to share some words I read this morning on this Presidents’ Day. Yep, on this government-appointed three-day weekend of money-saving retail sales galore!
Last week at the library, I picked up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Small Wonder, a collection of essays that are long enough to leave me fulfilled but short enough for me to not get burned out or trapped into finishing too long of a tale. I opened the book to a new page, having completed the first essay last night before bed, and began reading Saying Grace.
In this essay, Barbara Kingsolver shares her thoughts on the events preceding and following 9/11 and the mentality of the American consumer during the crisis. Consumerism, depending on who you ask, is one of the primary driving forces behind the terrorist attacks over 10 years ago because we, as a nation, consistently forge our way into other countries and terrorize the land those citizens so desperately rely on in order to make the things we want, not need. We, as a nation, are consumers of those products and the majority of us act as if it is our right to have constant access to those goods. And it is, legally, but maybe not so ethically. And that’s her point.
In the autumn of 2001 we faced the crisis of taking a very hard knock from the outside, and in its aftermath, as our nation grieved, every time I saw that wastefulness rear its head I felt even more ashamed. Some retailers rushed to convince us in ads printed across waving flags that it was our duty even in wartime, especially in wartime, to get out and buy those cars and shoes. We were asked not to think very much about the other side of the world, where, night after night, we were waging a costly war in a land whose people could not dream of owning cars or in some cases even shoes.
~ Barbara Kingsolver, Saying Grace
Interpret the words however you wish. There are a few things Kingsolver stresses in Saying Grace that I don’t particularly agree with. But considering the day and the thousands of sales going on all across the country in the name of American consumerism (and in doing our part for the economy in this time of war), I figured it was an appropriate enough moment to share this with you.