As I stepped out into the brisk 20* F weather here in Chicago this morning on my way to the train station (where I am currently sitting), I realized how thankful I truly am. Yesterday I was able to have Thanksgiving dinner on the floor of my brother’s unfurnished apartment. I enjoyed the fellowship with his roommate’s family from St. Louis who so generously cooked our meal and cried with me a bit when the Dallas Cowboys missed a chance at overtime by 5 feet. I am very thankful for the limited number of laughs and jokes we are able to share each year with our neighbors here in the U.S. – A sense of closeness exists on Thanksgiving that I wish existed in daily business – Brotherhood at the grocery store when guy’s attempt to pickup last minute items for the big meal. Such a wonderful day – quickly swallowed whole by the “dark day” to follow.
Today is appropriately dubbed “Black Friday” here in the U.S. – Not “Good Friday” or “Crowded Public Places Friday”, but “Black Friday”. Today an average of around $375 per person is spent on holiday gifts for friends and family.
The reality of consumerism that takes place in American culture today begins to sink in as I take the train from the Chicago suburb of Palatine to downtown Chicago – an hour long ride stopping to pickup/drop off passengers of all ages. We pass through about 10 crowded Chicago suburbs with an average population of 75,000+ in each suburb. This means that in less than 30 miles of transit, I am in the presence of $281,250,000 that could potentially be spent today and this makes me think, “I wonder where all the profits are going?” $5,000 can build a new water well in a village where people don’t have the luxury of the most essential element to health. (CharityWater.org). One well can provide water for 250 people. This means that if, even for one day, the total population of this 30 mile trek of Chicago suburbs put our consumer-driven pockets together we could provide healthy water to over 14,000,000 people.
Photo by Scott Harrison (@scottharrison)
Don’t worry, I am not going to start ranting about how greedy and needy all of rich America seems to be around the holidays – Nope, I just want to point you in a direction that can make a difference in the way you purchase your gifts this holiday season.
What if we bought exactly what we wanted, but made a deal with ourselves that we would only do so if the company’s agreed to give back to those who really need it (rather than want it)?