So Sunday was, of course, Easter, and that means the customary full-page ad in the paper, in this case, by Hobby Lobby:
It’s a charming tradition.
But, as it happened, there was another ad in the paper on Sunday:
It is, I suppose, a sign of our (increasingly secular) times that no one seems to have batted an eye at the idea of promoting the creation of a new holiday on exactly the day when Christians are celebrating their holiest holiday/holy day. And the idea of deeming “Earth Day” a national holiday, something I’d never heard before, strikes me as exceedingly odd.
(It turns out that there is no particular significance to the date of April 22; according to Wikipedia, the observances were initially centered around college campuses and this date was strategically chosen to be late enough in the spring to promise good weather for outdoor activities, to be past spring breaks and Easter/Passover — though that’s not correct as we’re now seeing, and to yet not late enough for college students to be studying for final exams.)
The URL earthdaypetition.org, as it turns out, redirects to a change.org petition, which claims to be addressing governments around the globe. It imagines that Earth Day will be celebrated by “exploring our planet” and by disconnecting our phones. In practice, of course, even in the unlikely event that the federal government chose to deem Earth Day a federal holiday and gave all federal employees the day off, true “national holidays” are those which are universally celebrated as a part of American culture and history, and for which, consequently, ordinary workers expect the day off rather than merely shrugging it off as just another day when, at best, the mail doesn’t come or, at worst, it’s necessary to scramble for back-up childcare. To imagine Earth Day as a national holiday when everyone laces up their hiking boots and drives out to their nearest state park? Yeah, not so much — especially since Earth Day promoters, up to now, so far as I can tell, had been a lot more focused on using it as a day to rally everyone to environmentalism, and since the parades and barbeques of Memorial Day are a part of a shared culture in a way that hiking, well, isn’t.
What’s more, I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the rhetoric that tends towards thinking of this as a quasi-religious celebration, and as a replacement-Easter for non-Christians. Happily, instances of labelling this past April 20 & 21st as “Earth Day Weekend” were sparse enough in an internet search as to make listing them a bit of an exercise in cherry-picking, so I won’t.
But, of course, this campaign is, when it comes down to it, a marketing campaign for The North Face. The other sponsors of the ad were also, with a few exceptions, companies aiming to market themselves by means of this ad.
And then, between an adventure-travel luggage company and a meditation app company, it’s the Girl Scouts.
As it turns out, this is not the only connection between Girl Scouts and The North Face; they are engaged in an “outdoor adventure collaboration” in which the company will create 12 new “outdoor adventure” badges which will include activities such as mountaineering, climbing, backpacking, hiking, and trail running, according to the company description.
So the Girl Scouts are both (a) signing on to an ad appearing on Easter Sunday calling for an Earth Day holiday and (b) doing so in conjunction with their “corporate partner.” This doesn’t sit right with me, for an organization that purports to be the all-purpose Girls’ Organization which welcomes all girls (and even gets upset at a group like the BSA seeming to try to compete for membership rather than respecting its monopoly), to become activist in this manner, even if it’s nonpartisan.