Jan Freeman writes The Word column for Ideas.
Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, editor, and multimedia producer.
Christopher Shea writes the Critical Faculties column for Ideas.
Send the Brainiac bloggers a comment on a post.
See the latest Ideas stories that appeared in The Boston Globe.
Visit the Ideas section
Week of: November 11
Week of: November 4
Week of: October 28
Week of: October 21
Week of: October 14
Week of: October 7
Mind the gap
What he learned in the newsroom
Mr. Boffo lays an eggcorn
Curse of the mummy's tummy
More in Word Watch
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Christmas the responsible way
A perceptive essay by the environmental writer Bill McKibben is reproduced here, by The Center for the New American Dream, which "helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice." (Sorry, but good luck.)
Poor McKibben must get tired of writing the same warnings and encouragements year after year, but he's good enough at it that it isn't a chore for readers, even when he's gently hammering us for our ethical shortcomings. The essay, though written some years ago, is timely now that we swing into the holiday season. 19 shopping days left! I've been working on the family to reduce our consumption every Christmas for five years, but McKibben says it better.
The reason to change Christmas is not because it represents shameful excess in a world of poverty, though perhaps it does. The reason to change Christmas -- the reason it might be useful to change Christmas -- is because it might help us to get at some of the underlying discontent in our lives. Because it might help us see how to change every other day of the year, in ways that really would make our whole lives, and maybe our entire 365-days-a-year culture, healthier in the long run.