Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After

In the U.S., today is the day after Thanksgiving.  Some people refer to it as "Black Friday."  (Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or "in the black.").  I never knew that we had Philadelphia to thank, not only for those great pretzels, but also for this!  

But, can you imagine being in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia the day after this weeks horrible tragedy on the bridge there?   A celebration turned into a crush of death?  There's a song that has the line, "There'll always be a morning after."  But there's not always one.  Will we make it thorough today without someone being crushed to death like happened two years ago ("Customers trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death on Black Friday.  The incident occurred as the shoppers crammed into the store when the doors opened at 5 a.m. Some 2,000 shoppers were waiting to get inside the store for Black Friday sales.  Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

A person who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages...When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning.' They kept shopping."  

I don't watch TV much but I'm sure there were news teams camped out, not only at that specific Wal-Mart but other stores around the country....looking for a story (Note:  Some of the stores in my town opened at 4am today).  

Our world has seen other deaths in crushes of people at things like sporting events and rock concerts.  Only one time did I witness anything like this personally.  It was at a Pearl Jam concert.  An outdoor venue (no seats).  My son and I chose to stand pretty far back, with a fence at our backs so that we at least had that buffer between ourselves and the crowd behind us.  At some point, lead singer, Eddie Vedder walked to the side of the stage and looked down.  We were pretty far back so only saw some shuffling around where he was pointing.  But he stopped the show and started talking, "Hey, don't push those people.  Give them some room.  You're crushing them.  Give them some air.  We are not going to start playing again until you guys back off.  People, if someone dies here tonight, we'll never perform again."  

What have we become?  Where is our consideration for one another?  What happened to everybody loving one another or at least being considerate of one another?  Is the human race taking giant steps backward?  How many more preventable tragedies have to happen before we'll wake up?  Why have we become so violent, so entitled, so selfish, so angry, so, so, rough, so aggressive...I could go on an on with adjectives.  But no matter what you call it, we need to catch ourselves...before it's too late.

I know it sounds simple but why can't we just treat others as we'd like to be treated ourselves?  Why can't we show a little peace, love and understanding (Elvis Costello) to each other.  What's the hurry?  How important is it to be first in line, for anything?  One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi:  "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."  Each of us can, and must, make a difference. Maybe at this time of year, with the holidays and the New Year close at hand, is a good time for all of us to take stock of ourselves and our approach to life.  Yes, things have changed, probably for the majority of us.  I'm not making the money I was making two years ago and we've had to make adjustments (i.e. sushi only once a month :-)  But, no kidding around, the experts say that, at least in the U.S., we're not going to fully recover for 10 years.  10 years?  That is a lifetime.  But what it is it is and if we aren't kind to each other, whatever time it takes for things to improve we will be crushed by our own disappointments.  The morning after can be bright, if we just look for the light instead of the dark.

These are my views and not that of my employer.

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