I was talking to DG about this subject last night, and remarking on a comment I had read on the internets. In referring to the tragic death of the Wal-Mart employee, the poster made the observation, something to the effect of "it's not like they were rushing into the store to get food to feed their families, they were rushing in to buy stuff." And that's what makes these yearly death tallies on Black Friday so sad; we really only have two basic needs in our lives--food and shelter--and when we find ourselves going ape s**t over marked-down toys and TV sets this is a major problem.
The old man was even saying that these things should be regulated somehow and, if the old man says something should be regulated, you KNOW it's got to be some bad ju-ju.
I was just finishing up the next to final paper in one of my religion classes, and this comment by Bill McKibben, from Hope, Human and Wild, really helps in thinking about our motives for craziness like Black Friday:
We may rationally accept that continuing to use the world's resources at our current rate--that living our amazingly high life--is unsustainable. We may, in our rational brains, believe that our car culture, our air-conditioned life, our mall fantasies, are sapping our planet. But in our hearts we fear that any real change would plunge us into a world of poverty, disease, ignorance--that it's either our life in all its detail or a grim, short, narrow life (123).
You can tell I'm still in paper mode because I reference my sources, haha.
I want to believe that 90% of the folks standing in line to rampage through Beast Buy on Black Friday know that the electronics and toys they buy are a wasteful use of energy and resources, but there is the overriding fear of not having them that causes the freak out. That's what I want to believe, anyway.
Oh, oh, and one more quote from Hope, Human and Wild while I'm at it--this is a quote from Mayor Lerner of the Brazilian city of Curitiba:
The job, it's a job of balancing needs and potentials. If you only work on the big issues, you're far from the people. If you only work on the daily needs, you don't do anything fundamental. You have to understand you are responsible for the hope of people, their hope for change.
Sounds like someone else we know, huh?