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28 November 2008

Help the man up off the floor

Black friday Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. -William Butler Yeats

Dear lord. We have lost our minds. We have so disengaged from our lives that things have taken precedence over people. Amy Guth pointed me to this story from this morning's New York Daily News:

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Have we lost our ever loving minds, my friends? What happens to us? As individuals, we are thoughtful, kind, merciful people. In crowds? Not so much. Are we addicted to things, to Elmo dolls and new iPhones and telescoping feather dusters at the expense of human beings? Are we losing ourselves in the aisles of Wal-Mart? I believe we are, sometimes in great force and sometimes so incrementally we can't see the loss.

At the end of our lives, we will sit alone or with a few people, uncomforted by the things of our lives, but held up by the people in our lives instead. We will have no need for that new toaster oven, the one for which we trampled a man to death. We have fallen prey to infomercials, to a quest for meaning outside of ourselves, when it is inside we will find that meaning. Only inside. Deeply inside, that place that doesn't need high-speed internet connections or bread makers.

Meaning comes not with a 25% off coupon or a new iPod, but in the spaces we cultivate between us. The best things in life are not things, my friends, and this man's family and the family of that unborn child will forever mourn them, an even deeper loss at the inhumanity of it, the senselessness, the dark awful hole of consumerism that caused it.

Regain perspective this holiday season, and stay human. Live life on a simpler scale, a slower one, a more human and humane one, one with fewer gadgets and more love. Simple, human love. Hold to your center. Help the man up off the floor.

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Jesus.

No words.

I, too, saw this story on Twitter. I wish I could say it surprised me. What a horrific representation of what we in America have become in some ways: selfish, greedy, gluttonous, uncaring...mindless. A good lesson for us all.

I too wish I could say the story surprised me, but it didn't. I'm so sickened by it. I made the decision weeks ago to unplug myself from the consumerism of the holiday season. The breakdown of our economic system should have been a wake up call but I fear it's making people more consumer oriented..."must get this NOW!!!!"

This is so very sad, on so many levels. As you wrote.
I gave up on the 'shopping' years ago (for 98% of it) and make things. I'm a knitter. This year everyone gets knitted felted clogs and I do knit every stitch with love.
I had to order your book at the B&N, got it a few weeks ago. Love. Love. Love.

This broke my heart today. IT is so not what the meaning of Christmas is about.

Have we lost our minds? Yes, absolutely! Is it surprising? Well, given the videos we see of this day over the past few years, I would have to say, sadly, no. That is why, for this family, it is Buy Nothing Day. Too bad more people don't participate. In fact, I usually read more about this day on the blogs, but this year I didn't - and I even searched it out. I do love watching the news and all the crazy shoppers, but this takes it to a whole new level. I wonder what those shoppers think or feel not, after the fact, or if they even do?

Even prior to this horrific exclamation point, my wife and I had decided it was a good year to give hugs and visits and time to connect, as opposed to stuff, things, and batteries to run the stuff and things.

It's so sad, yet it had to come to this, didn't it? And, even then, the folks in that store were not able to grasp the nature of their mistake. Instead, they insisted on continuing to shop even when the police began clearing the store as a possible crime scene.

Sanity and civility. Patience, kindness, and a willingness to let the other person go ahead of you in the teeming lines. We all have these, don't we? Can those of us who are here at Patti's blog still call all of these forth? How can we not?

Or, simpler still, as Patti puts it today: Hold to your center, which is the same for all of us, as only love exists in the center of each of us.

Just when I have been trying to understand what is going on in Mumbai, I read your post. This is the most horrific thing I have ever heard! I am going to send this to everyone I know. I hate consumerism! And I hate the way things make people behave.

I appreciate so much the way you help us to see what is truly important. People are what matters, not gadgets.

Atrocious. Disturbing. Embarrassing. Angering and Frightening. There's not much else to say about it.

I heard this on the news this morning. I sat horrified. It has left a lump in my throat all day. I pray for peace everyday but it has to start with ourselves first.

"Let there be peace on earth . . . and let it begin with me."

This story made me so very sad. Lives lost over the opportunity, nay, the insistence, to buy THINGS! Several years ago, I started this practice: give only gifts that can be eaten or grown. Food sustains us and growing things are beautiful. Sure makes shopping easier too. We bought nothing today, just worked together in the backyard sunshine to finish two beautiful mahogany frames that now hold a dear friend's paintings and hang over our fireplace tonight. I am holding healing thoughts for the families of the ones who lost their lives.

This makes me ashamed to call myself a human being. What have we come to?
Since moving to Asia I have given up the whole commercial angle to Christmas. Yes, I send to my 85 year old Dad, and a few Christmas cards to old friends. What I enjoy most is spending the holiday with my best friends in Taiwan, and the fun we have showing another culture Christmas around the dinner table. That's what it's all about. Not the stupid i-pod that's on sales. This is just so disturbing.

Consumere, the Latin root of "consumer", means to devour, take whole.

Have we gotten so out of touch with humanity that this goes unmourned by the masses? Have we become so numbed to our self-centeredness that it doesn't matter, so long as it isn't one of US? As you constantly remind us, Patti, "there is no us and them... there is ONLY us."

Blessings always,
Steve

When my niece first read me the headlines I thought it was a "joke story" from The Onion and was so horrified. I cried reading your beautiful column this morning. Once again, you know how - with your words -to make sense or at least put a frame around that which seems inexplicable.

Thank you.

I have read this post a few times and anger just rises higher within me each time. The faces and hands in the posted photo reek of greed. This is such a selfish, senseless act, just like the drunk driver who killed a mother and infant child here weeks ago. How do these people sleep at night? No bargain is worth fighting crowds full of selfishness and greed. It's simple, live without. My heart goes out to the family of this young man.

Greed begat Death! So crazy and so sad. Pathetic. I too was deeply touched by this news when I first heard it. Senseless. Shameful. Sad.

It is frightening to see what a fine line between civilized and barbaric behavior there can be. I try to see the good, but sometimes it becomes harder to see. I, too, believe we have lost our collective minds, and that manners, good breeding, and common sense are no longer the order of the day. How very very sad.

Somehow we need to change what is going into our minds. It isn't fair that people get constantly brainwashed with advertising and then we get indignant that they are materialistic. This is a reflection of the values we are brainwashed with every day.
Somehow I want to change that.

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