2011-12-02 / Letters

Middle-Class, Two-Income

Dear Editor,

A curious article appeared today in the Leftie blog The Huffington Post, claiming that when the Occupy Wall Street protesters set up their own antishopping effort on Black Friday, they revealed themselves to be a bunch of snobs out of touch with the American people. The author stated that the OWS cry against consumerism showed that they really don’t represent “the 99%” at all. Not True. It’s about time someone takes on this beast called consumerism.

Most of the people I work with are middle-class, two-income parents who are away from their children 11 hours out of every day except weekends. They commute at least an hour per day to well-paying jobs that provide an income large enough to keep the kids happy and the neighbors from smirking at their car. Their children are being raised by nannies, grandmas, public school teachers and after-school caregivers. These coworkers of mine bemoan that they never get to see their children. They accuse themselves of poor parenting, but see no other way to provide the gadgets expected of them, the laptops, big-screen TVs, and everything invented by Steve Jobs beginning with the letter “i.” Their children grow up as strangers, and to make this a little easier to deal with, my friends will pull extra shifts, not so much to pay property tax and mortgage, but to keep the gadgets coming, always newer, faster, bigger and MORE. Family hiking trips and trips to other outdoor locations are out. Shopping vacations are in. This is how a huge number of American families pass their time together, the conversations they share while driving to mega-malls and megachurches: They share stories about their purchases.

So somebody does need to raise a strong voice against consumerism, even if it is a bunch of kids wandering lower Manhattan who haven’t had a bath in a while. Somebody needs to ask, why is it so hard for American families to sit in a room together without being attached to separate electronic devices? You certainly won’t be encouraged to rethink these priorities by the media, with every news outlet providing up-to-the-minute Black Friday results as if our lives depended on them. Is it possible for families to unplug everything and just go to a park? Even if you don’t want to Occupy it, just go there.


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We are constantly in search

We are constantly in search of the newest, bigger, better, enhanced. All the supermarket products from detergent to canned soup are "new and improved". When we as a culture recognize that these things do not satisfy the deep desire for peace and serenity inherent in us all we can take the first steps towards implementing in our lives that which does. Those shared family moments around the dinner table can't be substituted with restaurant fare. Sharing the joy of cooking with our daughters, playing football with our sons.. these are the moments of our lives. When all is said and done, each of our days will slip into the archive of life where all our lived-out days are lying together. Make them count. Irene Brunstein

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