Shopping is Important

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Inter-dependence Day! A bit early, I know, but we are marking it at our UU service today. I am one of the lay leaders and will also sing a duet, This is My Song, about peace for all nations.

I woke up to a column in the Sunday paper about how much $ you can make by investing in non-US companies. Here is my email to the columnist:

Interesting advice about investing in non-US companies in your column today. I wonder if you would consider writing a column that presents additional information to consider when deciding where to cast one’s economic vote. This is a quote from a recent article in The New Yorker:

“Empty containers are the Port of New York and New Jersey’s biggest export, followed by wastepaper and scrap metal. The wastepaper mainly goes to China, and comes back later as paper goods. No empty containers arrive.” –William Finnegan, Watching the Waterfront, June 19, 2006.

Sure, US investors can make a lot of money in the short term by investing overseas, but in the long run, where are we going to get the money to invest if we don’t have jobs? I hope you will write about the big picture: How we invest has long-term consequences for individuals in our country and around the world.

I hope she writes back to me. And I hope I get some comments about inter-dependence. Here's what I'm going to say at the end of today's service:

We build on foundations we did not lay
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant
We drink from wells we did not dig
We profit from persons we never knew:
All our lives, we are ever bound in community.


  • It is scary: We consume, consume, consume. And we make so little. We trade houses, and fill them with stuff made in China, but the cycle is hardly a cycle at all, because it is unbalanced. I don't propose that we need to return to heavy industry that strips resources, but it's a shame we send our used paper away to return as new goods. There is nothing genuinely affordable about losing jobs and losing skills, which is the net result of letting the rest of the world produce our 'cheap' stuff...

    Inter-dependence... this topic keeps bringing Martha Stewart to mind. There were always a lot of discussions about her obsessive methods, and her lifestyle is obviously material-centric, but I miss her old television program, because she focused on learning skills, and she introduced craftsmen, artisans, laborers, farmers, cooks. She featured not celebrities and salespeople, but small business people and they were proudly sharing how to make clothes, or books, furniture, how to repair what we own and maintain our homes and goods, how to cook, bake, saute and preserve.

    In life there are necessities and luxuries, and I think it is a shame when we forget how to make, and create either. When we can do things, when we have skills, I think we can nurture an inter-dependence between what we need and what makes our lives beautiful.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 10:54 AM  

  • Good point about Martha. She shops carefully! And she values creativity and expertise. She also serves as a warning beacon. If I start getting too obsessed about this Shopping thing, I can picture myself throwing a Martha tantrum. That image will help me bring back some perspective! Thanks for reading my blog, Natalie.

    By Blogger Anna Banana, at 10:32 AM  

  • Turns out Larry said the closing words at the service. Love those words...

    By Blogger Anna Banana, at 2:53 PM  

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