We hear about people dying needlessly everyday but I was truly taken aback to read a story in the newspaper today about a temporary Walmart employee being trampled to death by the Black Friday shopping crowd out in Long Island, NY.
Apparently, these shoppers were so hungry for their bargains that they actually broke down the doors of the store and trampled this maintenance worker. I wonder if the following day or on Christmas morning these shoppers will look at around at all their worldly goods and feel it was worth it? Knowing that a 34 year old man’s life was traded for what exactly? A video game? A new coat? A Hannah Montana doll?
What was it that caused these people to cast all sense of humanity aside and knock this man to the ground? The scene was later described by police as “utter chaos” and employees said the customers were “acting like savages”. Even after it was announced that they must leave because an employee was killed, it is reported that people were yelling in protest saying that they were on line since yesterday. These people wanted to keep shopping!!
If this is not one of the most saddest commentaries of how greed and want have taken over our society today, I’m not sure what is. I honestly believe that if more people were exposed to traditional martial arts education where things like self control, patience, awareness and meditation are taught and valued over things like material things and a “me first” mentality something like this would not have taken place.
Rather than getting caught up in the chaos and frenzy, people would have the clarity of thought to recognize the fact that the acquisition of things does not equate with true happiness. Our value in this society cannot be measured by the amount of stuff we have. A clear mind would not have not been so easily seduced.
Just imagine for a moment the reaction of family getting the phone call being told that their loved one died in a throng of people out to get a “bargain”. Such an avoidable, senseless death. It saddens me to think of what kind of holiday season they will be having this year and each one following.
If there is growth to be had in face of tragedy, then one can only hope that this event and the attention it receives will serve as a giant wake up call.
I see the economic situation we are in as just that. A wake up call. Our society is led astray. We are placing too much value and time on the wrong things. I am hoping that this distress will eventually lead to a shift of consciousness. As our material possessions get stripped away we will be forced to realize what is truly important and that it is not found on the shelves of a store.
Helping us to look within -that is what martial arts training at its best is really about. It provides each of us with a road map. It points us to the areas where we need to work on ourselves. In doing so, we benefit everyone around us.
Originally published November 30, 2008