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A Truly Black Friday

By now I’m sure everyone has heard of Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour who was crushed to death early Friday morning by a stampede of crazed shoppers. One does not even know what to say about such a senseless death.
Mob psychology aside, this appalling event is indicative of a much larger problem in this country. Thousands of people lined up all over the nation to buy things they don’t need during a time of economic crisis. The corporate consumerist ethos has trickled down and made us sick with greed. A man is dead because people wanted $50 off a tv! And stores set up this mayhem by advertising “extremely limited quantities” and “special prices from 5-8am”. The Long Island Walmart where Mr. Damour was killed was reportedly reopened by 1pm on the same day and again filled with shoppers. Not even a day to mourn? If folks weren’t already boycotting Walmart, this seems like an excellent time to start.  
We must get it through our heads that no amount of “stuff” will lead to fulfillment. If anything good can come out of this economic downturn, I would hope that it would be people realizing that they can make due with less. If anything good can come out of Mr. Damour’s death, I hope it will be a wake-up call to slow down and have compassion for one other.
Performance artist/activist Reverend Billy is doing some excellent work in this area. I urge folks to check out his documentary What Would Jesus Buy?. It seems especially timely this holiday season.

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posted November 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm

What are the people who trample others at sporting events, rock concerts, religious events, or fire alarms sick with? Greed and consumerism? It seems to me one of the things over large and disorganized crowds of people trample other people regardless of their reason for gathering. And it seems a little tacky, to me, to take this tragedy and use it as a means to assault “consumerism”.
No amount of stuff will lead to fulfillment. But neither will any amount of austerity. People don’t need prompting to want to possess things, and it doesn’t seem to me that possessing only that which one absolutely needs is especially buddhist or feasible for most people. Maybe it would simply better to hope more people consume more mindfully, being aware while it is nice to have a cheap 50 inch TV it is also nice to wait for one in a nondangerous and orderly way.

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posted November 30, 2008 at 6:51 pm

I’m certainly not advocating not buying anything- we need to be mindful. The difference between what happened on Friday and another event is that stores across the country engineer this mass hysteria to make money. It’s gross and irresponsible.

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