The day after giving thanks, Americans were running around like turkeys behind Sarah Palin looking for the best deal on consumer items they don’t need in order to placate some Reagan-esqe consumer free market sense of loneliness, to prove to themselves and their loved ones that despite the dire economic conditions in which many of us don’t have enough to pay our mortgages, our car notes, our light bills, our grocery tabs, or our medical bills, we can still get an X-Box360.
In the rush to feed that hunger, though, some of the tension that underlies our national and international condition burst through: a Wal-Mart employee was stampeded to death in New York as shoppers (I didn’t know there were still people called that, given the highest unemployment figures since I don’t know when) broke into the store when it didn’t open at 5am so they could get the best deals; several fist fights broke out amongst waiting patrons in line outside a Best Buy in Florida; and there was a shooting at a Toys’R’Us in California. A death, some fights, and a shooting.
Black Friday originated as a pejorative term, though at this point I won’t delve into the subconscious necessity of equating black and negative. Retailers objected to the negative and began to circulate the rumor that it meant they would be moving into the black, and making a lot of money on this day. Wherever the term began, though, in my adult lifetime it has come to mean a gluttonous rush by consumers to sate their ravenous commercial hunger, and with yesterday’s violent accompaniment, the ridiculous lengths to which we as a populace now go in order to prove to each other and ourselves that we are somebody because we can get the latest, the newest, the most flashy things out there, without regard to costs, either financial or social.
President-elect Obama has talked often about the need for individual responsibility as an individual contribution to help alleviate the growing national and international financial crisis. I would argue that since the “me-ism” of the Reagan era began, and that continues in the present day, we have become a lot less cognizant of what we are as human beings sacrificing on the altar of greed.
Yesterday, it seems, we found out.
RIP Jdimytai Damour
RIP Alejandro Moreno
RIP Juan Meza