Keith Dunn wants YOU to quit shopping.

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Keith Dunn wants YOU to quit shopping.

Telling people to curb their consumption on the biggest shopping day of the year is like raging against baseball on opening day. Still, Keith Dunn spreads that message at shopping hot spots this Friday. "The primary tactic of capitalism is to convince people that their lives are empty and that they need all this stuff to be happy," Dunn says. "I want to tell people that they don't need any of that shit."

A few years ago, the 21-year-old activist embraced a simple lifestyle, favoring sunsets on the porch over television in the living room. Dunn, who calls himself a "neo-Buddhist renegade Daoist," says he used to ignore the social ills around him and "just focus on maintaining peace and joy." But when he read this month's issue of Adbusters (an anti-consumer magazine that looks like a design glossy but reads like Noam Chomsky), Dunn was struck by the way the magazine addressed economy and ecology without sounding dry or academic. Now, Dunn wants to live in a culture that cares. And, like a good bodhisattva (his comparison, not ours), he must enlighten others to reach that goal.

So he signed up to organize Kansas City's celebration of Buy Nothing Day, a worldwide day of anti-consumption demonstrations sponsored by Adbusters. Buy Nothing Days in other cities have included credit-card cut-ups, gift-making booths and Zen Santas who impart their own shopping wisdom.

On Friday, November 28, Dunn and friends hit places of commerce -- Wal-Mart, for example, or Best Buy. They want to get shoppers' attention with a protest called the Whirl-Mart. Shopper-stoppers enter stores with as big an army as possible, then circle around with empty shopping carts. "With fifty people shopping for nothing, it's quite a display," Dunn says. "We want to put ideas across without saying anything. There's no need to get into screaming matches with angry shoppers."

And if Kansas Citians still max out their credit cards on new televisions? Dunn won't be too bummed out. "I'll be happy just knowing that I did something," he says. "Even if it's just talking to somebody."

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