“A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows.” -Moliere
You probably live under a rock if you haven’t heard about the poor gentleman Jdimytai Damour who was trampled to death at a WalMart in New York on Black Friday. Four shoppers were also hurt, including a woman who was eight months pregnant. Just a few quotes from the story to sum up what everyone should be thinking.
The victim’s sister: “How could these people do that?”
A witness: shoppers acted like “savages.” “When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since Friday morning!'” she said. “They kept shopping.”
A WalMart employee: “I look at these people’s faces and I keep thinking one of them could have stepped on him. How could you take a man’s life to save $20 on a TV?”
It seems very fitting that the day is labeled “black,” the color most commonly associated with evil and superstition. It brings to mind a deep void in the hearts of Americans that is extravagantly filled with copious amounts of stuff. Does it take a senseless death to make people realize how insane we’ve become? No. Not even this will make a difference. It’s just a sensational news story for people to shake their heads at in horror. Will the country experience a collective pang of guilt? Apparently not.
While I was home for Thanksgiving, I helped my mom and stepdad unload trailers full of stuff from storage to their new house. There’s so much stuff. Boxes have overwhelmed the basement and the garage. I can only be self-critical. There was a whole stack of boxes with my name on them. I have a roomful of crap in Columbia, a roomful at my dad’s, and now more than a roomful at my mom’s. Pulling open boxes filled with stuff I hadn’t seen or thought of in years, I thought about families who can’t even afford to buy blankets or new clothes to keep their kids warm.
I had so many toys growing up. Mountains of toys, trinkets, stuffed animals, barbies…it was impossible to walk in my room without stepping on them. Is that my parents’ fault? I dunno, I’m not trying to blame them. But when I have kids, I hope to teach them to be satisfied and thankful with a minimal amount of stuff. But it’s hard. I won’t want them to hate me or feel jipped because all their friends have the best latest and most of everything. I’m sure that’s a concern of a lot of parents. But what are we teaching? Selfishness. Extravagant materialism. No desire for social justice. If the liberals want the government to provide for everyone, shouldn’t they also take some personal responsibility to share their wealth? I understand the conservative view that the government shouldn’t redistribute our wealth, but if this is true, shouldn’t it mean even more that private individuals should take responsibility for sharing our blessings with our fellow humans? Or are we that disgustingly selfish? It’s not my fault other people are poor. Shame on us.
Don’t the central figures and teachings of every major world religion call us to love our fellow humans and take care of the poor? Why are there so few Mother Teresas in the world? Almost no one practices what they preach. We only talk about it. Right now I’m only talking about it, too- and don’t I feel good about myself?
Consider this a wake-up call, to myself and everyone who reads this. Don’t merely agree. Do something.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:17-18