Barely a few mundane weeks roll by before the next consumer opportunity rears its ugly head to sell us what we ‘want’, not what we ‘need’…including the dreaded ‘C’ word…
Possibly the only adults who look forward to the ‘C’ word are Noddy Holder, Cliff Richard and Shane MacGowan. As they do their shopping at this festive time whilst hearing their songs blared out through some crackly shopping centre P.A system, they must take great comfort knowing that the royalties in 6 months time will pay for those lavish holidays in The Bahamas. As a 28 year old I haven’t got excited about the ‘C’ word for a long time. I take great delight in stuffing my face with copious lashings of gravy and Yorkshire puddings in the meal rather than ripping open gifts. It’s a bit overrated as an adult with no children to buy for and besides, I get gifts for loved ones all year round so this particular day holds no significance. Don’t get me wrong, surprising your loved ones with kind words, Whiskey, chocolate, ironic jumpers and socks (on the same day of every year) isn’t anything many could necessarily disagree with. (unless it’s a blended malt) This show of appreciation for family and friends is something that should be explored all year round, and for most, I believe it is.
Now this annus mirabilis is reaching its conclusion, there are many things we have seen across Europe and the globe that have shaken the world to its core. The first things that spring to mind are the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris at the start of the year. The Tunisian beach attack and only this month (November 2015) a further attack in Paris upon bars, a football game and a concert. All conducted by ISIS we are told by the mainstream news. On a daily basis in the Middle East there are similar attacks and the ‘west’ doesn’t bat an eyelid. Or at least, the news networks don’t give the stories enough credence in the billing to make us feel some empathy. The ‘west’ only bats its eyelids when it affects the the ‘west’, like the ongoing refugee crisis. Only today I see on mainstream news that a Russian jet has been shot down by Turkish forces and I feel a new era will emerge of tumultuous chaos.
Imagine if the response to the November Paris attacks were not ”Who did this and how do we get them back? Who do we blow up?” Instead, a response from world leaders on ”How do we make our public spaces safer?” or ”Why do certain groups feel the need to attack us and our culture? Are we marginalising certain groups in society and is there something we can do to make ALL feel welcome and co-contributors?” The Middle East is a convoluted place where civil wars rage over centuries of battles and US, UK, USSR forces over the past 50 years have made the situation even more complicated. Carpet bombing huge swathes of land can’t be the answer.
If the ‘C’ word is about the time of giving, sharing and helping others in need, then this is the time. In every major city in the UK and many towns there are places where you can donate clothes, shelter, etc for refugees. There are many events that can be found through a social media link or looking though a search engine we can find where to donate. If our world leaders aren’t going to debate on how we can stop people in society feeling marginalised or how we can make our communities safer and inclusive, then it must start with us. This is not to say we shouldn’t be adding pressure on governments to provide aid and financial help. I’d rather taxes went to help those in need rather than the billions we’ve seen since 2008 propping up banks and the lifestyles of those who keep us in Austerity. If Europe is going to be even more multi-cultural we must build bridges with refugees and make them feel safe and included. You can feel very helpless watching or reading the stories and struggles of refugees coming to Europe but the things that can be done at this time of embracing people is to donate. Organise. Spread the message.
I for one will be donating clothes I don’t use and anything else I feel would be worthwhile. Have second thoughts on the ostentatious three bird meal for the festive dinner or at least…don’t waste it. If the socks that Nana got you aren’t to your taste you might as well donate them. I will eat up all the food I have on my place not to waste as I know others won’t have that choice. Rebuke the Black Friday craze where risible scenes of hypnotised shoppers are sent into gladiatorial bouts over microwaves and flat screen televisions. If this is the time of giving, then let’s give. We are co-creators in this world, so let’s create.