Monday, November 26, 2007

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Stop the Madness!

Black Friday.

I know that I am a little late to the discussion about what happened last Friday. But since most of what happened last Friday is going to be repeated in some form or another throughout the next month until Christmas- this post is in fact very timely.

Disgust. Embarrassment. Anger. Disappointment. Sadness.

These are some of the emotions that I experienced as I watched people pile into the stores on Friday morning. Up until Friday morning, I saw the hype. I watched the television commercials tell us that we need to wake up early Friday morning to take advantage of unprecedented savings. "Run, don't walk!" was the mantra of every television commercial and newspaper insert. If I hurry, stores will happily open early (some as early as 4am!!) so that I can take advantage of buying their cheap crap now.

What continued to amaze me was watching the television news on Friday evening. The camera's were in place to capture all the action. Reporters were sent to the stores. It was a big party, the stores had a carnival-like atmosphere. What did I see? -people pushing, running and screaming. People pushing over their fellow man in order to save $20 on a digital camera, or $50 on an Mp3 player. Good savings, sure. But at what cost?

People sacrificed their time. Thanksgiving is a time for family. It is a time for reflection and giving thanks. Thanksgiving is a time to look beyond one's self and give thanks to God, our wonderful creator and source of all blessings. In contrast, Black Friday is all about self.

Many of these sales demanded that if you wanted to save you had to be there early. The stores opened as early as 4am. But you needed to get there earlier than that in order to secure your place in line. I read stories of people leaving Thanksgiving evening to spend all night in line. People sacrificed their sleep. They took time away from their families and from their homes. A lot of families approached the shopping day like planning for D-Day. Members split up, while in constant communication via cell-phone, in order to divide and conquer and maximize the coverage.

People sacrificed their dignity. I could feel the craziness and energy come through the television as I watched people shove and squeeze their way through the small, narrow portal doors of large department stores. People were worked up into a feeding frenzy. All social considerations were thrown out the window. No more was it women and children first, rather it was every man for himself.

Other people are to be seen as important and valuable and to be treated with kindness and consideration. But not on Black Friday. People are obstacles who are now in my way of getting the $500 LCD flat panel big screen T.V. If you have to trample over someone's fallen body, then DO IT! If you have to throw an elbow in order to grab a Nintendo Wii, then DO IT! Do whatever it takes because they don't call this day Black Friday for nothing. Disgusting!

People sacrificed their souls. Is this what we are? Is who I am defined as merely being a consumer. Is that my sole identity? Is that my sole purpose? God tells us that we are more than consumers. Our purpose goes well beyond mere consumption. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1)

Look!-let it be known that I like getting a good deal more than anyone. I rarely buy anything full price and will often wait for something to go on sale. But what I am angry about is how many of us are being led around by the nose by these stores and their contrived, manufactured sales.

They create artificial scarcity to build up need and angst. They manufacture hype and buzz. They tell us that we need to be there. They tell us we need to sacrifice everything to get it, our time, dignity and soul. And in return they will sell us stuff, already marked up 400%+, at a token discount, letting us believe that we smartest and luckiest people in the whole world.


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  1. you're totally right, thanks for sending me the link to your post. Could I reprint it in the Christmas issue of The Christian Radical?

    thanks again

  2. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for letting me know about your post. Well done! Our consumerism is quite out of control.

    take care,
    Dandelion Salad

  3. I surely wish more people felt like you and I do and STOP THE MADNESS. Apparently today is Cyber-Monday where the madness continues, albeit in privacy.

  4. Hi Bill,

    I couldn't agree with you more. We absolutely refuse to go out shopping the day after Thanksgiving. We did go out and have breakfast together as a family, and then enjoyed a nice family day at home.

  5. Very well put! I feel the same way felt sad as I noticed the hordes of cars in the parking lots at every store I passed that day. Its just ridiculous, and shameful. I am thankful that my family all agrees that we don't NEED gifts so anyone over the age of 12 in our family gets one item, that's it. We draw names, stay sane, still have the joy of giving and receiving and don't go broke celebrating. None of them are Christians, but at least it helps me to focus on the real meaning when I don't have to worry about that aspect of the holiday.

  6. Thanks for finding my post about this and sending me to yours. What a wonderful values statement you have made here. I hate to think about people driving or flying to be with family and then spending a day of their together-time physically and financially charging through stores. It is sick. Really, what are people using for brains?
    One of my daughter's friends (Jewish, like we are) goes with her family to these Black Friday sales. They think it's kind of a sport, kind of fun & macho. Me, I'd prefer root canal!
    Here's what I had to say-

  7. Excellent thoughts, Bill.

    I like a good deal just as much as the next fellow (perhaps even more). But the mayhem inherent in these sales is disgusting (as is the mayhem at the "after-Christmas" sales).

    To top it all off, we'll have to listen to the merchants complain that sales aren't as brisk as they had hoped for! Yeah, with shoppers lining up at 4 am on Black Friday, and parking lots filled throughout the Advent season.

    Give me a break!

  8. thanks for all your comments. I wish I knew how we are going to reverse the tide of Black Friday. It just seems to be getting worse and worse each and every day.

  9. Hey Bill,

    I reprinted your black friday post in the latest issue of my zine. I am sorry that I don't have your e-mail to send you a version you can print out I make two versions one is presently available for download on my blog under the heading "The Christmas Radical" the other is designed for people to print out from their own computers or to make copies of for circulation.

    I took part of your bio for the credits section I hope that's ok. I really wanted to publish your piece because I felt it cut straight to the heart of the issue. if you'd like you can write to me (my e-mail adress is in the profile on my blog) and I'd be happy to send you a copy of the zine in an e-mail.

    thanks again for writing this.
    Chris Rooney