Prince of Peace, OK, but Where’s the Peace in our Gifts?

1916030_210986220973_5549496_n.jpgConsumerism and Militarism are the overwhelming fundamentalist churches that we face today. We pray when we buy. We sing perversely to some god when we shoot. As is always true with fundamentalism – they want to blend into our everyday life and become completely normal. Americans are supposed to support these violent systems as a matter of course. The corporations stood amazed last year as the recession pulled back the curtain and there the corporations were, fat old wizards yanking on Oz’ controls. Consumerism was outed!

Militarism continues to be mostly unquestioned in America, but there is a direct relationship between Buy! Buy! Buy! and Bomb! Bomb! Bomb! The cancer of corporate expansion drives both the malls and the wars. The idea of a sustainable economy is anathema to Wall Street as well as the joint chiefs. And as Christmas’ playstations look more and more like military training films, we see the murders placed in our childrens’ hands.

Freedom from the corporate Christmas is usually thought of as freedom from credit card debt. We’re not just escaping – we are creating. As we buy local – Local-lujah! – or as we substitute a holiday experience for a corporate product, we are making Peace, too. This is the secret revolution in giving that breaks the back of corporate fundamentalism. Peace is not fundamentalist. Peace does not have a belief system that threatens non-believers. Peace gives us the freedom to believe in many things, to ask an infinity of questions. 

Big retail joined with the war-mongering fundamentalism that festers in each of the major religions. All the fundamentalists on all sides of the conflict supported the war in Iraq. Pulling back for the global picture, big retail silently goes along with the 1,000 American off-shore military bases that we maintain with our taxes. Since most of the stock in the big box stores is sweatshop products, companies like Wal-Mart want to maximize American control of the producer countries and the thousands of miles of shipping lanes. 

Mahatma Gandhi said “Become the change you seek.” We make Peace by with-holding our money and buying local, or making our own gifts. With gifts that are made by sharing experience with our loved ones, we become the Christmas we seek. It’s right here, it’s our bodies, in our souls. I’m promising you to weatherize the house and that is my gift. I am handing over a short story that I wrote myself and central character is you and that is my gift. 

If the gift is close enough to the love between us, just our souls here in our home – then the fundamentalism that makes violence in our name withers. On American televisions the bombing is made palatable by the way politicians decorate it with the rhetoric of giving. We are bombing for freedom. We are bombing as an act of generosity. We can stop talking that way now. Bombing is never a gift. This Holy Day, leave the corporations stranded in warehouses of unopened boxes and undropped bombs and unshot bullets. The gift of Peace!