Take Comfort in Rituals

September 25, 2010

At my dentist’s recommendation, I went looking for coffee to wash the taste of the cement he just used to anchor my double crowns in place – and I came upon this at the nearest Starbucks.

The sign on the front door says – Take Comfort in Rituals

I started feeling all warm and gushy all over!

It is Genius!  The moment I walk up to the store (commit to purchase) I am being affirmed in my intended consumption. No buyers remorse here… The act of forking over my hard earned coin in this particular place has been pre-sanctified. Spend and be saved.  Hallelujah!

Really!

Now we can look at this affirmation in this particular place at this particular time and argue as to whether purchasing overpriced coffee is really a real ritual. But let’s face it.  This transaction takes place in a darkened wood paneled lodge, complete with lights and music, choreographed performance, special money and a secret language.  That seems pretty ritualistic to me.

But what about history.  Surely tradition is a necessary ingredient of ritual?

Does the Starbucks ritual compare on any level to… say the building of the temporary wooden structures my ancestors  have been feasting in each year in the fall for the past 6,000 years. Or how about mating.  Yeah.  What about that ritual!  Or is that some kind of biological imperative?  Anyway, that particular dance goes back a long way too.

Well,  the life cycle of a ritual may be hours, days, weeks, years or millenia. Stoking your home-fire before you go to bed might not be practiced so much in America these days. But other rituals might start worldwide at the press of a key-stroke.

And what about their symbolic value?  Is there a better way to signify you belong to NOW, than by clutching a white cardboard cup in either one of your hands as you walk, go to the gym, enter a meeting or… heck, do just about anything.

Carefully crafted marketing messages from the green mermaid like the one currently posted on her door helps trigger a this very real, powerful connection to something that is part of our human psyche.

I know the strength of the ritual has also frequently been perverted by those who want to exploit, and there can be rituals with victims and rituals that are illegal.  And in my view those rituals can’t end soon enough.

But, most rituals are a very good thing.

Marketers cleverly tapping into our need for ritual… well, you decide.

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