We've all seen them. The pictures of masses of cowding, shoving people battling to get the cashmere sweaters on sale for only $39.95. The mobs clutching at their oversized packages of 70" television sets for a mere $989. The signs asking Wal-Mart employees to contribute money so that the other employees could have a decent Thanksgiving dinner- after their Thanksgiving shift is over. But it gets worse. We may not have heard them. One young man proclaims, "Sure, I've got a TV - almost new. Works perfect. But this one is bigger and I got thisd incredible bargain....I've never seen one this cheap!" A woman says, "I've got plenty of sweaters, but I couldn't pass up something like this!" Some kid grabs a video to add to his collection, never wondering if it'll stiil be in one piece tomorrow. Buy. Discard. Buy.
America. Black Friday - ooops, no, Black Thanksgiving.
The new fashion is to stretch the grabbing, grasping, want-more greed that our country has become starting, not from the day after our holiday of giving thanks, but instead of it.
Listen to what we are: Bargains. Discounts. Coupons. Open late. Open early. Everything on sale. Get there first - before your neighbor. Leave the kds, or if you can't, drag them with you. For heaven's sake, don't ask in what kind of country you can't make anough to get along in the first place so that you might have to seek out discounts in order to live. We live in a country with Wal-Mart as our biggest retailer and we're gradually adopting its values as our own. Consider these values:
1. Cheap prices are worth giving up our values.
2. If people are hungry enough, they'll work for anything.
3. There's no such thing as enough when you have too much.
4. Everything should be for sale.
The Walton family is the richest family in the world, but they won't pay their "associates" enough to live above the poverty level- and we, the people, continue to buy from them.
For the sake of bargains, we submit to their blackmail that the people who work there would have even less if we boycotted the store. By continuing to patronize them, we tacitly encourage the same kind of behavior that gave us, in days gone by, feudalism, fascism and slavery. Those who protest the behavior of the Waltons are generally fired and others - in greater need, as a rule, crowd in to replace them - so they can feed their children.
Nowhere in the equation is life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Just profit.
We can think of reasons why we have to buy at Wal-Mart. Seldom are they based on need. I believe, in a country that used to be as great as ours, if a person works a 40-hour week and still can't afford food and shelter, there's a lot more wrong than only having one place to shop. I believe that Americans should have an unalienable right to food, shelter, medical care and legal protection and I certainly don't want to depend on corporations like Wal-Mart to provide them. And if it takes socialism to prevent vultures from ripping the flag to pieces in order to have more cushion for their nests, then so be it.
If you don't think we're in danger of becoming Wal-Mart, turn on your television and check the values we're seeing more and more becoming our principle values. Look at what role money is playing in our political, social and even religious lives. Pope Francis put it pretty well when he talked about the "idolatry of money." Anyone who attacks the endless greed that capitalism has become is called a left-wing nut or worse. So does that mean Wal-Mart stands for what we want our nation to become? Is this what we want to pass down to our kids and grandkids?
Maybe it's time to start thinking along different lines. Bigger is not necessarily better and Biggest is certainly not necessarily best. Although there's nothing wrong with money or profit, there IS something wrong with putting money and profit ahead of the principles of the United States, whose Constitution didn't mention net worth as proof of citizenship. Perhaps we need to start thinking not along the lines of Democrats or Republicans, but along the lines of the greatest good for the greatest number.
I don't care what we call it. But I don't want to live in Wal-Mart.