Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Darkening Days of Winter

I just found myself watching footage which was shot yesterday in a Walmart in Mesquite, Texas. It showed a crowd of Black Friday shoppers crammed together, shouting at each other while tearing apart a display of video-games. In the center of the chaos a woman is being pulled out, presumably by her daughter, who is trying to keep her from being trampled by the masses. As I watched this footage, I couldn't help but feel both angry and truly sad for them, because if this is the kind of behavior human beings allow themselves to degrade to over something as trivial as a game, what hope is there?

If these were a starving people, and this was the last crate of food which had been air-dropped into their village by the military, even then I would feel disappointed in those people for not trying to act in a brotherly, civilized manner, but I would understand that survival can do some dark things to people, and that they were only acting on self-preservation and the protection of their families. As it is, these people in Walmart were elbowing and smothering each other over toys, and seeing them do it can only make me feel discouraged. There is something fundamentally wrong here, and no amount of jokes or explanations can hide it.

It's either ironic or telling that Black Friday starts only a few hours after Thanksgiving has ended, a holiday which is meant to slow people down from their day-to-day lives long enough to remind them they should be thankful for the things they have in their lives. Thankful for their friends, their families, the food and shelter that keeps them alive. How flimsy, how meaningless does this message become when millions of people finish their meals, wipe their faces, excuse themselves from the dinner table and then drive to a store to act like some kind of goddamned animal.

This. This is how we as a people have come to start the holiday season. It's no wonder Christmas has become a twisted, depraved version of what it used to be. I wonder how many of the vein-headed, finger-choked consumers in that crowd praise Jesus, and have convinced themselves that this is how they show their love for him. I wonder if they know that December 25th is not his real birthday, but was chosen to overtake a Pagan holiday, and I wonder if they appreciate the sick humor of celebrating the life of a pacifist by clawing at the chests of their fellow man to save a few dollars on a toy.

Group psychology is an interesting and scary thing. Maybe on their own each of these people can act civilized, courteous, but bring them together in a tense situation and they turn on each other, devolve, act on their basest instincts. Deep in my heart there's a special fear reserved for crowds, because I know that you can put a man in a suit, teach him economics and proper grammar and appreciation for wine, but if you place twenty of these men in a small room and drop dollar bills on them, they will chew each other's fucking eyes out.