Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday

Once a term that simply denoted the fact that the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, the day after Thanksgiving, marked the point in the calendar year that most retailers broke even on their expenses for the year and moved "into the black", Black Friday has gained a much more notorious reputation.  This year was, unfortunately, no exception.

Forget the idiots camping out in front of the local mall overnight (or longer) for the "privilege" of being first in line.  I'm talking about supposedly rational, mature adults fistfighting (and worse) over consumer goods of sometimes questionable value.

This past Friday, there were multiple reports of violence at malls around the country, including one report of a shopper using a taser against another bargain hunter, a shooting, a knife attack, people injured in stampedes and the crush of a mob converging upon the announcement of an "unadvertised special".

Could someone, anyone, please explain this phenomenon to me?  With small words and pictures?  I just don't get it.  We are opening a season intended to foster "Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men" with a celebration of over-aggressive consumerism.  People willingly commit violence against one another in order to obtain that must-have gift necessary to show a loved one just how much they care.

Philosophically and morally, it's no different than a mugger assaulting someone on the street to finance his Christmas shopping.  Or, if I were to be political, government showing how much they care about the poor by confiscating someone's property in order to "spread the wealth around". 

Maybe that's where this kind of behavior got it's start?  If it's OK for government to rob Peter to pay Paul, why shouldn't these people feel justified in using any means necessary to get what they feel they "deserve"?  It's a philosophical disease.  One that destroys people's inborn desire and ability to achieve and to provide for themselves and their families and replaces it with a belief that no one should be allowed to have anything better or more than they do.

Not that this is anything new.  Remember the Cabbage Patch Kids(tm) back in the 80's?  Parents were pummeling each other to grab a stuffed doll for little Susie.  Nice role modeling, folks.  The biggest difference then was that news reports were near universally condemnatory, asking the question "What's wrong with these people?"  Now it's just an unremarked item on the evening news, no more important than the weather report.

As bad as these incidents are, more troubling still is the increasing acceptance by the general population that it's more or less expected behavior.  In fact, I'd wager that a Black Friday that went off without violence would be the real news maker.  It would certainly be the exception to the rule.  Which is perhaps the most discouraging news of all.


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