Reverend Billy is an activist and performance artist who was the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of New York City for 2009.
The Adbusters Media Foundation is celebrating Buy Nothing Day in many cities around the world. The event was started 18 years ago by a Vancouver, Canada, artist. Buy Nothing Day encourages a 24 hour moratorium on consumer spending. (ie: They ask people not to shop on Black Friday.) On the front page of the Adbusters website, there are photos of demonstrations from around the country and the world. And, there are streaming updates and reports from Twitter. The Reverend Billy is part of these actions.
One entry states that Reverend Billy was crushed between the police and the Rockettes. At Reverend Billy’s Twitter, he writes: “Just home from Macy’s 5 AM crush, Life After Shopping choir sang, swept back through Rockettes inside door, preaching against Consumerism.”
Buy Nothing Day front page with updating Twitter feed: here.
Thanks to this article for background about Buy Nothing Day.
From Reverend Billy’s website:
November 26, 2009
Buy Nothing Day Message
by Rev. Billy
On the morning after Thanksgiving,”Buy Nothing Day” a group of us will preach and sing at the front-door of Macy’s Department Store in NYC. We do this every year. We’ll be there at 5 AM, when shoppers up all night waiting in line rush the glass doors. This is the human comedy at its most sad, and it is an environmental Shopocalypse. The American consumer’s carbon footprint is exponentially the most sinful of all, 20 times the average. The plastic-swaddled American consumer is the rough beast that slouches toward Copenhagen to be born…
Buy Nothing Day is an old idea. Drop out of Consumerism for 24 hours on the day when we are supposed to shop the most? This radical rechristening of the corporate Christmas took place back in the 90’s, long before most of us equated Consumerism with destruction of the earth. So kudos to the people at Adbuster’s for venturing forth with this semantical bravado. Nonetheless, Buy Nothing Day is not enough, not for the emergency we face now. Even if everyone took the fast, throwing a bit of icy water on middle class shoppers – for a single day? … not NEARLY enough.
The indigenous holy days that rise from the solstice, i. e. Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannakah and all the rest – offer us an unseen opportunity. This is the day that there is seconds more light and heat, as the earth and sun roll back toward what will become the unleashing of life called Spring. So the holidays in late December are the seed of change. Christmas is radical, and life is out of our control. All we can do is pray for the best, honor it, because it is the beginning of a miracle. It’s not a Consumer event.
What are the basics of this gift idea. At Christmas we want to delight a loved one with that gift, Amen? We want the face to light up, the embrace to follow… The “sunshine of your love,” as the song says. The simple handing over of a gift has that seed of light in it. I might seem a bit odd to look at our loved one and say, “I love you, Life. I love you, Earth.” Yet isn’t that the kind of love we need at this point in this emergency we face? The sweet nothing for our gift should be more like “I love you like I love ALL of life.” This year we shouldn’t give any gift that isn’t also a gift to the Earth.
When we have our loved one in our embrace, the earth is so often at one remove, beneath the floorboards or waiting in the window. And when we look at the earth, conversely, we aren’t supposed to have such familial emotions. The feeling for a lover, the feeling for a newborn baby – those famously strongest of human emotions are separate from how we receive the caresses of ocean water on our legs or the wind softly whistling in the trees. The opportunity of the “holy days” is that these two divorced kinds of love can become one in the same, organized in that seed of light and heat, that gift.
This year we should radically re-define what our gifts will be, to simultaneously love our family and our earth. A gift from a big box store, from THE DEMON MONOCULTURE! – that puts us in a car for hours and is wrapped in plastic packaging, was shipped a thousand miles with internal combustion engines etc. etc. – This year we won’t consider this a gift at all. To unwrap such a give from a loved one would be to experience the divorce once again of the two kinds of love. Such a gift hurts life on earth, and so it hurts us. We are the earth ourselves.
Christmas is annual environmental disaster. Last year Americans generated 25 million tons of trash from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But then, these holy days are the beginning of Spring, the possibility of change. We always had that life inside us, but we suppress it with Consumerism. Are we afraid of what more heat and light might mean? Will next Spring be too wild – too loving – too out of our control? What if the heat and light grows to become… Peace on Earth?