Black Friday

To be willing to place oneself unnecessarily in a chaotic situation in which one may have no choice but to trample over someone else is a symptom of one of the moral plagues of our time – that is materialism. Black Friday reminds us of the effort that people are willing to exert just to buy luxuries at a discounted price. In those 24 hours or so, the spirit of competition heightens while the spirit of compassion weakens. This de facto holiday, which comes right after the day when we give thanks for all those who have contributed to our lives, is not about God or about honoring a great person or even about love, it is a holiday for the worship of unnecessary material objects.

It is not difficult to find news headlines describing violent and degenerate behavior among shoppers during Black Friday. Many seem to be prepared for a coming apocalyptic scenario in which they must defend their property with pepper spray, knives and guns. Although I find arming oneself for a shopping spree to be outrageous and unacceptable, those who do actually have a somewhat realistic picture of what happens during the chaos. In a sense, Black Friday is a free-for-all filled with confusion, quarrel and desperation. It is not absurd to say that this holiday provides us with a glimpse of what a true apocalypse would look like and how human beings would act if their lives were truly threatened.

The tragedy of Black Friday is that it is entirely mainstream and that there is nothing like it for the forces of good. It is impossible to imagine millions of people throughout the country waiting in line for 48 hours to help dig wells in sub-Saharan Africa. It is even impossible to imagine such behavior for our own fellow citizens. After hurricane Sandy did we see as many people willing to put so much energy into helping the victims? Absolutely not. True, millions of people did donate money and there were courageous people in the Northeast who helped with the aftermath, but the amount of voluntary effort exerted for the victims of hurricane Sandy is nothing compared to the amount that is exerted by the lust for unnecessary objects. Selfishness and materialism prevail. And what is more is that we have given them a holiday.