A Thanksgiving message from actor, writer, and activist Billy Talen from NYC .Posted: December 1, 2015
Billy Talen is an actor, writer, and activist from New York City. His ‘full time’ acting job is as ‘Reverend Billy’ the evangelist for his ‘Church of Stop Shopping’. In this message he exhibits poetry written as prose with contexts juxtaposed in unusual ways to paint a larger picture of our time.
REV’S THANKSGIVING MESSAGE
Norman Rockwell is dead at the easel, his paintbrush still hanging in the air. All our traditions are in anaphylactic shock. We chew together in the eye of the storm.
This turkey-day we gather around the steaming food to defend ourselves against what is outside. We are seated facing inward, admiring the steaming aroma of the overkill. We pretend for an hour that we don’t notice what is behind us, the climate rattling the windows and the families knocking on our door.
We express our gratitude for what? That we have just a little more time; time for this meal. The ritual meal gives us a feeling of false momentum; that we are logically coming from 10,000 meals going back through time. This also suggests that there will be many more such celebrations to follow. This is a lie and we know it.
We all live in a gated community now. We all live within a militarized zone, in the center of which is an extreme form of retail culture which storms our minds with smiling graphics, actors, anti-depressants, fossil-sourced packaging and carbon shipping. This bizarre deathtrap is called our mainstream economy.
Here in 2015, after Beirut and Paris; after extinction sweeping through the natural world; after cops shooting unarmed black men sixteen times and cities hiding the evidence; after the language of candidates out-Hitlering the worst of the past – we take another bite. We use the words of mild-mannered love. We think of our family as a little culture with borders. Well, should we be grateful that we can still harbor this fantasy?
We hear the wind blowing against the side of our dining room. We call it a super storm, hoping to make it as manageable as the super bowl or a super mall. We are watching the geo-political super-storm of ISIS, Putin and Goldman Sachs, but we are belching the gas from the top of our packed stomachs and the problems of the world are on a screen on the wall. We are not witnesses to the world, we are consumers of it. It comes as information on a screen. It is our most violent border. We have ourselves to thank for corporate media.
Our mature response is to remain in a state of non-protest and keep shopping. Cornel West is right when he says, “Everything is commodified. All things are for sale.” This is a state-sanctioned religion. Extreme shopping is the psychic heart of modern racism. The shopping drug makes us the kind of idiots that accept violence. The Ferguson young people last year were right to march into Walmart and shout “Hands Up! Don’t Shop!”
This year is a hard Thanksgiving. Our thanks must leap from our immediate love all the way over Trump and ISIS and toxin-coated seeds of 200 mile-an-hour wind. Our thanks flies out to Chelsea Manning, the truth-teller alone in her cell. Our thanks go to the families who miss their murdered loved ones, the survivors of state violence from bullets, drone bombs or Monsanto. Our thanks go to the piano player at the Paris theater; to the all-night campers in the Minnesota cold at Precinct #4, and to the police who are beginning to have, in the midst of their thanks, doubts about their leaders.
The sun is rising in our windows on Thanksgiving Day in the USA. It’s getting warmer for the homeless here in New York. My thanks go out to them, and the 60 million homeless who walk hundreds of miles toward militarized horizons. We must escape to all of you, cross the borders from the shopping side, and give thanks to you for our freedom. — Reverend Billy Talen