People and Things

A Wal-Mart employee in Nassau, NY was murdered by shoppers breaking down the doors and trampling anyone who fell down in their focused drive to get to the Black Friday bargains offered at the discount chain.

I don’t know how any of them feel.  I’d bet a lot of ’em feel pretty damn shocked and horrified.  In fact, I’m even willing to bet that most of ’em are trying to convince themselves they were in the wrong part of the crowd to have stepped on the temporary employee hired for the holiday season.   I’m none of them want to think it’s their foot that dealt the death blow.

This is not going to be a piece decrying materialism.  As far as I am concerned, anyone writing a piece on a laptop with her iPod syncing to her electronic music collection who is also mentally debating whether nor to to make herself an espresso from a machine she has in her kitchen has no right to sneer at materialism.

I don’t think it’s materialism that did it.   It was a rather twisted sort of competitiveness.  No, not gonna sneer at competitiveness, either. I’m a self-employed writer.  You have to be pretty damn competitive to be able to make a living like that.  It’s the twisted part that’s the issue.  It’s losing sight of what’s truly important.

If you do not keep constantly in mind that people are more important than things, your priorities are way out of whack.  Anyone willing to participate in a mob scene that knocks people down and ends in a death to get to a sale on something that’s not even necessary to keep you alive has gone from from focusing on people to focusing on things.

If this had been a bread riot or something like that, I could understand it.  But it wasn’t.  These weren’t people going hungry here who had a chance at more food.  They were more like this guy 500 miles away,

“Even with the economy, you’ve got to go with the deals,” said Robert Balboni of Centreville, Va., while loading his shopping cart with a 42-inch flat panel TV, a portable DVD player and a Philips 2GB MP3 player.1

Notice the urgency of the words that were quoted.  “Got to”.  People are putting survival urgency on non-survival things.  The behavior at the Wal-Mart where the employee was murdered was survival behavior applied to a non-survival situation.   We do it all the time — in relationships, in our business lives, in our home lives.  And that’s where the priorities are screwed up.


One Reply to “People and Things”

  1. All in all, this may be one of the best explanations I’ve seen for the economic crisis as a whole. It pretty well explains Wall Street.

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