Tuesday, November 29, 2011


By Jennifer Coburn - This holiday season, let's not over stuff ourselves with toys, trinkets and gifts. The gluttony of consumerism adversely affects our health - and our children's health. The average American spends more than $1,000 during the holiday season, according to Buy Nothing Christmas, an organization that advocates simplifying the holiday. Despite the fact that the USA represents 4.5 percent of the world's population, we consume 40 percent of its toys. The typical first-grader is able to recognize 200 brands and acquires 70 new toys a year. In "Born to Buy," professor Juliet Schor explains that the more kids buy into the commercial culture, the more likely they are to suffer from depression, anxiety, headaches, stomachaches and boredom. Adolescents with more materialistic values are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as smoking, drinking and illegal drug use. They are more likely to suffer personality disorders like narcissism, separation anxiety, paranoia and attention deficit disorder. 

Lavishing our children with gifts deprives them of something far more valuable: shared time and experiences. In our overscheduled lives, we are often too busy or tired to do a family art project, play a board game or bake cookies. I can't remember ever roasting chestnuts on an open fire, but it's always sounded like a lovely idea. Most families say that what they need more of is time - not stuff. And getting in and out of shopping centers steals your time. Overabundance of holiday gifts offers a short-term payoff, but the long-term consequences are high. Not surprisingly kids who are overindulged materially tend to have the worst relationships with their parents. Money can't buy love, but it sure seems to finance some serious familial discord. I don't advocate for doing away with all holiday gift-giving. A few thoughtful gifts can add a lot to a child's holiday, but we need to redefine giving by shopping less and doing more. Our kids will remember the bread-baking, the snowball fights and the family time long after they've tired of this year's must-have gadget. 

The average North American spends a lot during the holiday season, and presents are part of the holiday experience, but they have come to eclipse the greater meaning of the season. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or winter solstice, the season offers us all a period to reflect on what makes life beautiful and meaningful. And those usually don't come in wrapping paper.  Consumerism is based on the desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts, and we must avoid its risks by providing our children with higher values and saintly association.
Whatever we think of is really part of our consciousness. And consciousness means person. Everything that we may be conscious of is a person. ... Affection, attraction, sympathy - these things are all the outcome of having a heart. The scientists feel that animals have no real brain, no intelligence. Yet we see that even without much of a brain, an animal can live, but without a heart, none can live. As the brain is a representation of a computer, the animals have no real computer to calculate. Animals may follow intuitive knowledge, and so they can work unconsciously. And we can see that intuition can go above brain calculation. So many birds and beasts can understand that an earthquake is coming, but so far, no human calculation can understand precisely when an earthquake will come. There are many things that our brain cannot feel, cannot catch, whereas even the animals can get some clue about them beforehand.

Śrīmati Urmila devi dasi : 
“The Company We Keep”

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