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Disgusting

It can’t be, but probably is, sheer coincidence that this haiku by Shiki Masoaka was today’s reading in haiku mind a collection by Patricia Donegan. I’ve been reading one haiku a day for a little over a month now.

It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate haiku and commentary for Black Friday (unless it’s the haiku that occurred to me Wednesday while sitting on the couch watching one commercial after another, particularly and ad promoting specials on Thursday evening).

disgusting—
people arguing over
the price of orchids

SHIKI MASAOKA

Greed, once one of the seven deadly sins warned against in medieval Christian culture, has expanded through Western capitalism into the globalized culture of hyperconsumerism. Whether on an international or personal scale, it is difficult to switch our allegiance and notice the beauty of the pristine white orchids nodding in the hazy sunlight, and to realize the absurdity of wanting more and more. The poet here, even a hundred years ago in Japan, saw the same human axiom at work. Today this is a worldwide reality: when 1 or 2 percent of the world’s people own most of the wealth and when the acquisition system of multinational corporations flowers on a world scale, the result is not just orchids that are at stake, but the depletion of human and natural resources, resulting in plague, famine, war, and the ruin of the environment. Only when human beings realize that everything on earth is interdependent can we switch our thinking from competition to cooperation, from greed to compassion. Then we will be able to just admire the orchids, perhaps together.

Excessive consumerism has nearly robbed me of my favorite time of the year. I suppose you could argue that my wishing for a “special” present as a child was also a form of “consumerism,” but that would be like arguing that enjoying a 6 oz steak is the same as gluttony.

Excessive advertising has nearly stripped Christmas of any beauty that it might have once had for me.