i try and remember the sabbath as a day of rest although it’s not because i’m a fan of organized religion. big religion is something i don’t really approve of. small groups getting together, fine. big, money-making groups that leave their beliefs behind to enrich themselves? i dislike them and their hypocrisy immensely. i believe that organized religion is the source of many of the problems we are facing today. power corrupts, and there is power and influence aplenty in the corridors of religious organizations. a lot of the time, they act like they’ve left their principles and values behind; i’m not a fan.
religion, itself, however, i have no problems with. i like it. i think we all need a robust spiritual life, whatever that looks like. we need to believe in something beyond ourselves whether it’s a religious tradition, a philosophical belief, or a personal creed. we need to have a model of good to aspire to. religion, however, and my problems with it is not the reason behind my desire for a day of doing nothing at all.
we’re all busy. we’re too busy. we’re busy all the time; we scurry around with nary a pause for breath and we aren’t really accomplishing anything substantive. acquiring, however, we do very well. we shop ‘til we drop for things we don’t need. we use shopping as a social activity. we use it to kill time. we use it to make ourselves feel better, as though what we own is what defines us as a person.
the main argument for business as usual every day of the week is that not doing so hurts both companies and consumers. experts like to say that if you don’t keep everything open seven days a week, you’re ignoring consumers’ demands, making shopping harder, and stopping businesses from expanding to meet a perceived need. the real winners are not the mom and pop small businesses, however, but the big, chain stores. they can afford the labour costs. the irony is that they don’t need our help to make a profit; they’re doing just fine. opening on sundays and holidays didn’t cause them to offer significant wage increases or consumer savings as their profits climbed, so where’s the up for me?
why does everything have to operate seven days a week? what’s wrong with having a day off? spend time with friends, spend time with family, spend time with yourself. you can read that book you say you never have time for, take the walk you never go on, or have a conversation with someone that doesn’t involve complaining about the music being pumped into the store, the prices, or mocking what passes for fashion.
i am “on” most of the time and i assume almost everyone else is too. everything we fill our time with seems immediate and necessary, even if it isn’t. we spend almost no time differentiating between needs and wants and a lot of the business we undertake on weekends and holidays falls into the “want” category. there is no way a 60” television is a need. what we are able buy expands as our needs are met because they need us to keep coming back. acquisition is the name of the game, and it’s a game we can’t win because there will always be more, newer, and “better”.
acquiring at the expense of no down time has become a way of life and it’s not serving us well.
i’m better when i take time for myself. i’m better when i connect with my friends and family. i’ve long been a proponent of quantity time over quality time. yes, quality time is good but in this case, more is better.
i’m better when i feed my soul, and i do that by reading philosophy, reading anything, writing, relaxing in my house, interacting with my circle, or puttering out in the garden. none of these things requires businesses to operate 24-7, and in fact, their being open is an impediment. it’s too easy to think of things to buy right now when you know that the “need” can be met with just a short car ride. it’s too easy to just pop down to the hardware store or pick up a litre of milk. the truth is almost nothing i think i need to buy is urgent. it can almost always wait.
i don’t expect things to change from an operator perspective. it’s very hard to un-ring a bell. i can, however, choose not to play. i can decide that my personal life and my spiritual satisfaction is more vital. i can decide that i’m more important than the rollback items i saw in the flyer from one of my local big box stores. after all, i’m not choosing to not play in the world forever. it’s one day of withdrawal. if i can’t go one day without acquiring something new, then i have a problem.