Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Have We Become?

Black Friday was the final day on this earth for Jdimytai Damour, a 34 year old temporary maintenance worker at a Wal Mart store on Long Island.

When Damour went to work that morning at the Valley Stream location, little did he know that savage American shoppers would break down the front doors and trample the life from his body in their quest to snag discounted consumer electronics. Four others, include a woman who was eight months pregnant, were injured.

Wal Mart is expressing their regret while claiming that they anticipated a large turnout and supplemented the normal security contingent with additional staff, including third-party personnel. Nassau county police disagree, observing that the crowds were out of control and that Wal Mart seemed woefully unprepared.

Wal Mart has spent years marketing their Black Friday sales, opening the doors early to fan the flames of the false scarcity that they have created into a all-consuming inferno of greedy and selfish shopping. Consumers have been more than willing to be used as tinder in this sociological backdraft, punching and wrestling for the last X-Box standing or whatever trinket we've been led to believe is so valuable that we can disregard every moral or religious lesson we've ever learned.

When people are willing to begin lining up outside of retail stores at 3 AM in order to be at the tip of the mob spear when the doors are unlocked, we officially become part of the problem. Do I blame Wal Mart, and Best Buy, and the other merchants who are part of the macabre holiday tradition? I do, but the question then needs to be asked: Are they simply responding to the customer demand, or did they create the monster that they now nourish?

If we stopped lining up and pouring through the vestibules like starving refugees seeking an ounce of rice in the Sudan, these retailers would stop offering this tradition in a New York minute. While they may have been the creator, like Frankenstein, we have been reduced to the ugly, misunderstood monster walking stiff-legged through strip centers and shopping malls with blank stares and Starbucks cups, determined to snuff out the meaning of December holidays, regardless of religious affiliation, family upbringing, or common decency.

Who needs peace on earth, goodwill toward men when there are only five Garmin GPS devices available for $99?

Update: cross-posted to my Daily Kos diary.


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