Black Friday reveals unfortunate truths 



Good deals should never supersede human life

Black Friday: the semi-satirical title applied to the day after Thanksgiving and the “official” kick-off to the holiday shopping spree. Somehow, it has become an American tradition to get up obscenely early in the morning and camp out in front of department stores awaiting their opening and the amazing, out-of-this-world price cuts they promise.

And why not? In a struggling economy, every dollar counts, right?

Perhaps, but are those extra savings worth the life of 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour, a holiday associate at a Long Island Wal-Mart? Damour was trampled to death when he unlocked the doors for an incoming rush of eager holiday shoppers who paid more attention to the inexpensive goods than the life of another human.

CNN reported that police and paramedics were even jostled and pushed as they attempted to revive and remove the fatally wounded Damour from the store. Customers paid as little attention to the injured man as they might a toy that wasn’t on sale. Some refused to leave the store to allow paramedics greater access, saying that they had been in line for over a day, as if that is somehow an allowance for inhuman behavior.

This is an extreme result of the sort of temporary social insanity that erupts in retail establishments every year. As a retail employee, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Damour’s death, but unfortunately, not surprised. Having seen customers work themselves into an inarticulate frenzy over matters as trivial as not being able to find a shopping cart, a screaming mob outside a Wal-Mart on Black Friday is expected.

While the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of those who knowingly stepped on a human body, only to continue shopping, Wal-Mart could have been more astute in anticipating the crowds that were likely to form, perhaps organizing the customers more efficiently in some sort of orderly line, less liable to crush someone than a massive flood of people.

What does this say about us as a culture? Are we so consumed with material goods that we no longer recognize that life and happiness are ultimately more rewarding than new toys for the kids, who will no longer play with them in a year, or a new T.V. that will be obsolete before next Christmas.

Material goods have their place, but they’re not worth screaming at an associate for not having more of a specific item, or at a cashier for moving too slowly. And material goods are certainly not worth someone’s life.

I’m not a theologian, but I’d bet money that Jesus would have rather those customers not save their few dollars on material belongings so that a completely innocent man could remain alive.

I bring up Jesus because some apparently have trouble remembering that the holiday of Christmas is actually celebrated because of his birth, and presumably, everything he stood for.

Among those things, trampling people to death at Wal-Mart was most likely not included.