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Under Arrest: Santa Claus

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is destroying the planet. We need to make a choice; Santa or humanity or rather, Santa or the ecosystems that support humanity. We need to really consider what goes in to bringing you, or me, a Christmas present.

We live inside extremely large and wasteful systems and those systems are destroying the planet. Considering the volume of those systems, it's not enough to re-cycle. Our party of consumption has to come to an end and that party reaches its peak once a year, at Christmas time. Most retail sales occur during the Christmas season.

A typical Christmas present requires a monumental effort that happens behind the scenes. The material to make the item is shipped to the factory from the resource providers. This requires ships, trucks and forklifts. It is packaged in a way that requires cutting trees and processing the paper. The paper is then packed and shipped. It is then made into the specific packaging material for the item. The item itself may depend on various parts shipped from all over the planet. And on Christmas morning we will open it, first by removing the bow and card, then the paper, then a box, another box, perhaps some plastic etc.

This insanity happens all year round however. Little by little by little, every day, every week and every year the earth and the eco-systems provide their micro treasures for our macro systems so we humans can consume. We are addicted to hair conditioner and cigarettes and fat. And as the eco-systems offers up their treasures to us we flush them down toilets and burn them and contaminate the source of our existence.

We must abandon our multitude of petty addictions. We have to abandon our spoiled comfort. We have to stop the madness of having toys and convenient snacks and repairing our snack damage with rides to the gym to work off our guilt and excessive fat. We have to stop packing goods inside of packages that are inside of packages. We have to stop cutting tress to make paper to advertise to tell people they must consume what they don’t need and what will make them sick. We have to learn to eat from the local soil, to drink water from our local ground and to stop all the shipping and flushing and burning.

Have an Ivan Pavlov Christmas

As children we are trained by Santa Claus to become hopelessly addicted to junk. As adults, our addiction doesn't fade and we are hell bent to ensure our children are even more addicted than we were. The addiction brought so much joy and we love our children. Each and every year the same stimulus; Christmas carols, the tree and decorations and food are replicated from our own childhood. Our parents had us overwhelmed with a month of carols, decorations, and shopping. All the characteristics of Christmas from 50 or 100 years ago still remain. The very same stimulus and the very same responses are on an endless loop in the culture. On Christmas morning the family scene breaks a month of anticipation into a day of hedonism and gluttony.

As adults we salivate in a similar way to Pavlov's dog. Ivan Pavlov developed the theory of classical conditioning (conditioned reflex). Pavlov measured the rate of salivation when he would present a dog with food. He discovered the dog would learn to salivate with only the sound of a bell once the dog learned to associate the sound with the food. The food was no longer necessary to produce the saliva response.

The Christmas spirit is the same conditioned response to stimuli. It has nothing to do with the spirit of Christ - on the contrary. The Christmas spirit is the spirit of selfish giving. We give yes, and we expect as much joy from the gifts we give. As children we got packages of crack, toys that would buzz our minds for hours. Now we get bath oil beads and soap. We get socks, ties, and maybe a book. Our stimulus was once alive, buzzing with excitement. It isn't the same for us anymore and our gifts are listless and drab. We remain responsive to the sound of Pavlov's bell however. We swallow back our dissatisfaction and live vicariously through the children; children that couldn't be happier.

In this spirit we walk past homeless people in the Christmas rush. We are carrying far too many packages to give a beggar a coin. We step by them without really noticing. We are far too busy gathering large volumes of material we will re-cycle. We are, after all, concerned about the environment.

In our defense we provide joy and happiness for family and friends and they do the same for us. This is the time of year we forget about the troubles of the world and we celebrate with family. Sharing the Christmas spirit with family is what it’s all about. 

The point here is, Christmas has been hijacked by crass consumerism and it is the wasteful and excessive orgy of hedonistic materialism that is harmful to the planet. Sharing Christmas time with family and friends does not require multiple trips to Wal Mart.

Our addiction to consumer Christmas has to come to an end. The planet cannot survive with the direct impact Christmas has on the environment nor can it survive as long as we are addicted to advertising, packaging, and items we don't need. The whole attitude has to change. It is not only climate change that is hurting the earth. Our selfish destruction of ecosystems is poisoning the land, the sea, and the atmosphere. If we gave a damn about our children and their children, we would not addict them to junk. We would pass on to them an environment where they could survive and where they can enjoy a sane, non-addicting Christmas with their families.


Not only individuals addicted to Christmas want to keep the party raging. Corporations depending on Christmas sales have some stake in this as well. Together, they make a formidable team. And besides, nobody is going to make you give up Christmas. Environmentalists and left wing loonies can say what they want but you will have a much or as little Christmas as you choose. And this is the key point. This is your choice.

When we consider that even something as minimal as the Kyoto Protocol and opposition from those that are most addicted to the party, we know that we have to win a huge battle before we arrest Santa Claus. Our children and grandchildren and their kids have an enemy in our midst and that enemy is us. This enemy is equal to any coward that puts his own pleasure ahead of the survival of others. They are the selfish and comfortable cowards that we think of as shareholders. They are them and their million lackeys and they are the enemies of humanity and the earth.

In the 21st century, everybody doesn’t have to work to distribute and produce wealth. That idea is archaic and part of capitalistic indoctrination. Capitalism has given us many gifts of technology, know-how, and toys. Thank you capitalism, we appreciate it. But it has come at a price and the sooner we start paying it back to the earth, the less expensive it will be. We have to change our economic systems, our production systems and our distribution systems if we want to save the eco-systems that support us.

We will crush resistance to the detoxification of Christmas even though Santa's fifth column is deep among us. It is a matter of time. Christmas must be restored to its true meaning which is 180 degrees contrary to greed and addictions to bath oil beads. We need to crush the spirit of Santa and replace it with the attitude of Jesus.

 When that happens we will produce most of what we need locally and we will start living with each other in communities again. We won't walk by the beggar. We will sit and talk to him. We will say good-bye to our alienated lives in front of television sets. We will produce what we need and we will distribute what is needed as it is needed. We may need bicycles and buses, we don’t need cars. We need to distribute water where it isn’t locally available. We don’t need Coke. We don’t need useless items in multiple packages.

We live inside big wasteful production and distribution systems but we also live inside many other systems. We live inside eco-systems and we are destroying them. We cannot continue to abuse the earth because we are as much a part of the earth and the nutrients we put in our mouths and flush down the toilet. As we destroy the earth, we destroy our grandchildren. They are the earth and they will come from the earth long after we return to it.

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