Gratitude Gives Way as Shoppers Rampage

This isn’t funny at all. It’s bizarre.  Unfathomable.  It’s one of those incidents that makes me feel like America is just a big, mindless appetite, ravening and rampaging.

What am I talking about?  This.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

And the worst of it is that, even after the tragedy, people wanted to keep shopping.  As one bystander reported:“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning,’ ” Ms. Cribbs told The Associated Press. “They kept shopping.”

My initial reaction to this was to think that, as I said above, America is a nation addicted, not just to oil, but to consuming.  I believe that is true – and can see ways that I am touched by the bug myself (can you say electronic gadgets?).  We’ve long been consumed with consuming, and it seems like it’s been accelerating in recent years.  Hell, in times of crisis, our asinine-addict-in-chief has told us all to go shopping.  Talk about appealing to our better angels! Yeah – that’s a great idea Dubya – thanks for the inspiring leadership.

Anyway – so I do see us as desperately addicted to consuming.  It’s one reason that this economic downturn is going to be so challenging.  People who have been self-medicating with gee-gaws are not going to have the same access to their drug-of-choice.  So what will happen?   Well, maybe stuff like this.

The tragedy in Valley Stream also made me think about how much of a daily battle life actually is for many.  Is it coldness or desperation, despair, and battle-hardened toughness that drives a crowd in this way?  What experiences, over the course of a lifetime, lead to statements like the one above?  This leads me to wonder how much our very culture traumatizes people on a daily basis.  Not just around the world, but here in the USA.  PTSD?  I wonder.

The tragic and dastardly attacks in Mumbai bring to mind the attacks of 9/11.  And it feels like there’s an echo in Valley Stream, somehow. And thinking on all of these things, I am reminded that the past eight years of Bush/Cheney and their cronies have done more damage to this country than Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida ever did, or could.  They have damaged our standing in the world, our infrastructure, our economic status, our national soul.  None of these things were in great shape to begin with, but the Bushies looted and pillaged and tortured and distracted us with fear and self-righteous platitudes, and all the while pointed their fingers at Al-Qaida.  And we, in the meantime, ran up our credit card debt and went along with it, more or less.

So now we have underpaid Wal-Mart workers being trampled by desperate shoppers.  And we have an entire world that sees us pretty much through that lens.  And it’s a pretty accurate lens.  Sadly.

I don’t have a song for this one.

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