Just put on some angels.

Last night I decided to take a sabbath, which included such deeply spiritually-forming activities as drinking cans of coke while buffing my nails and watching three consecutive episodes of “House.”  So sue me.  As I was flipping between shows and considering my next move, I stopped briefly at QVC.  At first, I was drawn in by the crazy headband the host of the show was wearing (black with silver sequins, but most oddly, it wrapped around her forehead with a bow in the back.  I’d never seen such a thing before).  But it was what she said that kept me there.  As she and the other shiny, well-dressed, polished saleswoman attempted to convince me to buy a high-quality sweater covered with appliques of poinsettias and angels, she made this compelling claim, which I can’t claim to quote verbatim, though I think I”ve mostly remembered it:

“In this time when we’re all so scared… the world seems scary.  There’s an economic crisis in our hearts.  But here’s this sweater, and it’s got angels on it.  Isn’t it pretty?  If we all just cover ourselves with angels, we’ll realize that there’s really no problem, it’s in our minds.  The angels protect us.  So buy this sweater and feel better immediately.  We all need something pretty when things seem hard.”

You’re reading that and saying to yourself, “Come on, Jules.  That’s not what she said.  No one could possibly think a) something so stupid or b) that will sell sweaters.”  But I’m not pulling your chain.  And I’m not exaggerating, either.  That was her message. 

I sat and watched my shows and thought about this, attempting to break it down.  Let’s reason through: first, what kind of world does this woman live in that she would want to make this statement?  Well, of course she’s  a salesperson, so there’s the issue of saying whatever it might take to sell product.  But people must respond, this must speak to folks.  After all, QVC is successful (though they are laying off folks right now, like many other businesses during this recession).  It’s not exactly a message of fear, like those we’ve heard in the political realm for the last decade and which seem to be less and less attractive to people.  Rather, it’s a word of avoidance, a gospel of spiritualism.  Sort of a “click your heels together and say ‘there’s no place like home'” hope.  Are we so afraid at this point that we have moved from resistance to curling up in a little ball, covering ourselves in warm blankets, and waiting out the storm, hoping our guardian angels are watching over us? 

I confess, sometimes this seems like the best answer.  After all, there I was, avoiding the news, my own personal difficulties, the hardships of the world by exiting reality for a few hours, entering a world of pretty things and junk food and the TV-world where the doctors always figure out what’s wrong and fix it by the end of the hour.  But is there a difference between, a healthy version of (even), escapism and taking a break?  I personally don’t think we can survive without some sort of escape, but the idea that we can solve our problems by purchasing clothing is ridiculous and dangerous.  More disturbingly, it’s the message we all hear nearly every day.  We are no longer citizens, just consumers.  That’s the world we live in right now.  Our fear prevents us from acting wisely and well.  Instead, we just put on some angels.

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1 Comment »

  1. Jeff Said:

    First, I like the whole drinking Coke and watching House thing, though I usually don’t buff my nails, maybe I should try that. Sanctuary is the word that comes to mind when I read this. We all long for a place to get away from the troubles of the “real world” for just a while. The sabbath was built for that and other reasons as well. Not long after working on Sundays, sometimes my most difficult day of the week, I found myself searching for another sabbath day. In taking Friday out as the sabbath, I now find myself struggling with the stopping of working, production, and the like. I long for a little company in my temporary rest from the go do it world. Perhaps the salesperson was also trying to sell something that allowed protection from life’s worries while still living constantly in the midsdt of them; a substitute sanctuary or substitute for the Sabbath, if you will. On a lighter note, I’m looking forward to my stop tomorrow, maybe an old rerun of House will be on.


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