How do you celebrate national holidays? Do you use your day off for some quiet contemplation, or to spend time with your family? Do you go shopping?
Consumerism has become a major part of holidays, like Christmas and Halloween, that, to be fair, already had a consumerist component; they’re celebrated with gifts and candy. Now, the consumerist impulse has spread to much more solemn occasions. You may have noticed advertisements for Martin Luther King Jr. Day sales.
If people want to remember the life of America’s greatest civil rights leader by taking advantage of great financing offers on a new Buick, that is their decision. But the idea of having “MLK sales” seems a bit crass.
We observe national holidays for reason, usually to remember something important, like the sacrifices of generations past, that have made the United States what it is. That’s why we have “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” or “Veterans Day” and not “Random Long Weekend.”
Americans are finding it more difficult to agree on things; a brief reminder of our common past and the common ideas our society is founded on is much-needed in times like these. After shoving each other out of the way to get piles of Christmas presents, isn’t it time to take a break?
I’m not saying that everyone has to shut themselves in their houses and read King’s speeches every third Monday in January. It is a holiday, but it’s a holiday about civil rights and not deals on electronics. There is always money to be made but perhaps, this time, businesses could respect King’s memory by not slapping his name on special deals.