Saturday, December 1, 2001

Be all you can be


By David Gewirtz

Those of you who know me well know I'm not a religious man. In fact, on the few rare occasions when I'm required to put down my religion on some form or another, I write in "devout capitalist." It pretty much tells the story.

Yet capitalism is irrevocably intertwined with the holiday season. For many businesses, the bulk of their revenues are derived from the few months before Christmas. The linking of Christmas time (and other celebrations of the Winter Solstice, across cultures) to the giving of gifts goes back at least to 1804, when the New York Historical Society was founded with Nicholas as its patron saint, its members reviving the Dutch tradition of St. Nicholas as a gift-bringer.

Where there are gifts to be brought, there are gifts to be made and to be purchased. And therein was born the fundamental link between commerce and the secular Christmas celebration.

Normally, we at PalmPower devote our December issue to the choosing of gifts for the holidays, and thereby do our part to honor the link between commerce and celebration. We're doing some of that anyway, in that we're sending out our popular holiday gift ideas mailing in a few days, and we recently released the Ultimate Palm OS Device Buyer's Guide, a compendium of Palm OS devices currently on the market.

But this year, we've decided to take a different approach from years past. We've all been through a lot these past months. Events have brought us closer together, challenged us, inspired us, and given us reason to look forward into our new millennium with wiser, more worldly, and sadly, somewhat wearier eyes.

The twelve months beginning in November 2000 and ending in November of 2001 have truly tested our mettle.

We began with an unprecedented transfer of power, noteworthy not just for the petty squabbles over bits of paper, but also for the fundamentally sound structure of a nation that can weather such a transfer without placing a single armed man on the streets. We end this year by placing armed men in the streets, in our airports, and in far off lands, notable not only for the horror of the events, but for the strength of character and innate civility of most of our people.

2001 has truly been quite a year. But now, as has always been the case for us, with a fundamental philosophy founded on the premise of enlightened self-interest, it is time to move on. In our culture, December marks the end before January's new beginning.

We move on by returning to our capitalist ways, by buying things and selling things and consuming things. To those of us who are truly devout, this is as the world should be. For with an active commerce, we're empowered. We're empowered to buy food and shelter. And we're also empowered to empower our representatives to protect us, to fight for us, and to avenge us. And so, it brings me great satisfaction to watch the wheels of commerce grind on, powering a great nation and a world that grows ever smaller in distance and greater in substance.