This is the week when Americans gather to eat turkey and pie, watch football, argue at the dinner table, and — after we’ve digested our excesses — line up in front of our computers or big-box retail stores for the chance of shaving a few pennies off the already low, low price of a shiny new 75-inch 8K QLED TV. Of course, the marketers tell us, we need the model with built-in Alexa voice control — for more shopping without ever getting up from our well-worn couches.
Black Friday has become a testament to our society’s embrace of overconsumption — a blood-sport game of conquest and consumerism that’s as far as we can possibly get from a holiday supposedly devoted to giving thanks.
So this year, let’s ditch Black Friday, Cyber Monday and whatever they’re going to try to get us to “celebrate” this coming Wednesday.
Let’s pull back and remember those we’ve left behind.
Let’s mark the post-Thanksgiving date as Extinction Friday: a moment to think about the peoples and species we’ve driven off the face of the Earth, and to promise to do our part to prevent others — or ourselves — from joining them.
This Friday, instead of shopping, offer up a homily for Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died alone in her cage at Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, and vow to do your part to ensure that no other bird species share her fate.
Give a moment to think about Toughie, the last known Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog, who gave up this mortal coil in 2016. Promise to protect any amphibians who cross your path.
Bow your head to George, the last Hawaiian tree snail of his species, gone since 2019. May his memory serve to remind us to grow a backbone when it comes to standing up for the invertebrates around us.
Raise your hands to the unnamed thousands of species (and trillions of individuals) we lose each year to the forces of commerce and progress, and then offer a mantra to slow the growth that’s killing us all. The people dying in Cancer Alley in Louisiana. The tribes facing deforestation in the Amazon and displacement in Africa. The mountain gorillas falling to the spears and shotguns of wildlife traffickers. The corals getting bleached by climate change — our ultimate sin. The orangutans slaughtered to make way for the cheap palm oil baked into this weekend’s pumpkin pie …
The list goes on and on. Don’t limit yourself; devote yourself to those you can help, or inspire others to help.
Because Extinction Friday isn’t just this Friday. It’s also Extinction Saturday, Extinction Sunday, Extinction December, and on and on, ad nauseum.
But we can do better. We can skip that 8K UHD TV. We can avoid shopping at Amazon-dot-com and protect the calm of the natural forest. We can give thanks for the world around us, let the memories of those we’ve failed change us as much as they haunt us, and act.
We can steer the narrative and alter our reality. We can turn Extinction Friday into a Day of Evolution.
Then — only then — can we rest and truly be grateful.