So many things are legendary about Black Friday in America--that day after Thanksgiving when retail stores offer bargains on just about everything to entice shoppers to part with their "green" to launch the official Christmas gift-buying season. Until yesterday, I was unsure as to why the day was referred to as "black," but after the animal-like behavior of November 27, 2008 in Long Island, New York, I fully understand and agree with the adjective.
A 34-year-old man whose job it was that day to unlock the doors at Wal-Mart to the crowd that had been gathering overnight, was trampled to death by shoppers who couldn't get inside the store fast enough. Although this happened at a Wal-Mart, it could have happened at any retail store that participates in the Black Friday "festivities."
It was so important to the people bent on not missing out on one single bargain that they walked over a human being lying on the floor, breaking the door on their way. These were not people famished from days of not eating who just wanted a loaf of bread, or even people ill with a deadly disease whose only cure lay beyond the doors of the store. These were people who just had to have a flat screen TV or Talking Elmo, or one of any other bargains of the day. They wanted these material things so badly that the bodily welfare of another human being meant nothing to them.
The senseless loss of life, such as in the terrorist standoff in Mumbai, India or the suicide bombings that occur almost daily in the Middle East--those are tragedies. Even though most of us don't agree with the motivation of the people who instigate such violence, somewhere in our minds we do understand that the folks who perpetrate such acts do it based on strongly-held beliefs. That doesn't condone their activities, but it does at least rationally explain them.
The Black Friday horror story of a man trampled to death by bargain hunters is just raw and inhuman. I don't know how any of the people involved in this senseless death are feeling a day later, but I would wager next month's wages that not just a few of them are defending their actions by "everyone else was doing it."
A man died doing his job. When a soldier, policeman, or fire fighter--people who took on their jobs understanding the inherent danger of the positions--lose their lives, towns and cities mourn--as they should. This man could not possibly have perceived the danger he faced that morning, and no matter how the story gets spun--that maybe some actions of the man might have contributed to the incident--he was NOT responsible for his death. The people who knocked him down and walked over him like so much rubble are; I wonder how fulfilling their shopping bargains seem now.