Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping Frenzy

This AP news story is really unbelievable, in the horrific sense. And so utterly believable at the same time. The rapidly spreading world religion of consumption has finally given way to human sacrifice. All in the name of $69 cameras.

I advocate a lifestyle of relative simplicity, which makes me a little suspect to comment on the frenzy that has traditionally accompanied "Black Friday." And I've never been one to stand in line for hours to get into a store, no matter how great the "deals." But there is something drastically wrong with the human race when we're more interested in cheap Christmas presents than the welfare of the people next to us. Or those we're crushing on our way down the aisles.

But this is beyond tragic. On one hand, the store hold a significant part of the blame for not adequately preparing for the enormous crowd of people gathered outside the doors. On the other, the crowd's collective guilt. Even though the article mentions it as a possibility, there's no real way to criminally charge those at the front of the line. I've been in pushing crowds before and there is no option but to allow yourself to be carried forward. There's no stopping, no turning around unless you desire a sudden end. And surely no one stood in line all night thinking, "Tomorrow morning I'm going to trampled a minimum-wage worker on my way to the electronics department." They just got caught up in something tragic and unstoppable. So maybe all those shoppers, easily identified by their credit and debit card receipts (who pays with cash these days?) could ALL be sentenced to community service so they can learn true gift-giving. Send them to the soup kitchens, the homeless shelters, the public housing projects. Require them to give an equal amount to the poor as they spent at that Walmart on the 28th of November. Now THAT would be a beautiful thing...

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