"Black Friday" is a challenge to one's spirit, isn't it?
emerge from our feast-induced slumber, all enumerations of our blessings
flee from our minds, but one: we have might have an unmaxed out credit
card somewhere. Off to the mall! Start the Christmas shopping now!
a challenge to keep up the gratitude, that sense of well-being in the
world, that family and friends and love are enough, that we felt on
Black Friday is now big news. Thanksgiving was
slow news day, so the TV news would fill the time with stories about the
hopes of retailers for the Christmas season. First, came the Early
Bird Sales, which soon escalated to Door Buster sales. Then the news
folks started interviewing shoppers/campers in the parking lots. The
sales got bigger. The crowds got bigger. And as many as enjoyed the
frenzy of the shopping, there were as many at home, tut-tutting and
fretting about how awful all this was. Even cheaper fun
Events always prove my mother right, who often said, "this will go to
far, and somebody is going to end up crying." Which this year, was
literally true. Keeping in the spirit of the season, a woman in a Los
Angeles Walmart, pepper-sprayed other shoppers to clear a path to the
bargains in the electronics department. I guess she took seriously the
Fox News comment that "pepper spray is a food product, essentially."
am challenged to keep an open heart to all those whose attitudes
toward shopping, consumption and holiday-making are different than my
own. For some, Black Friday is fun; for some, it is practical and
economical; for others, it is efficient. Shopping done, they enjoy the
rest of the holidays. Who am I to judge what other people need or want?
We are encouraged in our consumer culture to judge other people by what they buy, by how they shop, and by how they consume.
OK, I try to keep an open heart, but sometimes, it is more of a challenge.
count gratitude and empathy as some of the essential virtues of the
liberal religious path. Gratitude has been said to be the source of all
religious feeling. If you think about everything that had to fall into
place for you to even be here, you have to be humbled and awed. Call
it blessed by God, born under a good sign, or just dumb luck, you have
to be grateful.
Empathy is making the effort to see yourself in
other people, especially people you don't understand. It's an
imaginative leap. It's not the same as knowing the truth about someone,
but it stops you from distancing yourself from them. There are
limits, of course. I am having trouble imagining why anybody would use
pepper spray in a shopping situation.
Black Friday is the
beginning of the turn toward Christmas. It is the unofficial start of
Advent, the season when we allow ourselves to think that something
wonderful might yet happen. It is the season when we let gratitude and
empathy soften our cynical and fatalistic hardness. It may yet be that
not everything will end in tears. Let us hope so. Let us just hope.