I have been watching it all unfold. The little tents, cramped together in a small space. The people huddled in folding chairs, wrapped in coats and scarves against the frigid night air, or standing in small groups talking.
I have seen the surging crowds, pushing forward, breaking down barriers in frustration and anger. My heart starts to pound as I watch video of people shouting, pushing, shoving to get through. And I wonder: is it worth the risk?
The scenes become scarier as people begin to turn against each other, trying to shout each other down, trying to drown each other out. And then, of course, the police and security people appear on the scene, determined to keep order.
I have seen photos and videos of people screaming from the effects of pepper spray, weeping at the pain and fear. Videos and photos of a man lying in a pool of blood after being pushed to the ground by police, who surround him and try to keep the crowd at bay. With all of the passion and frustrated emotion, there have even been shootings and at least one stabbing.
And I have to ask myself: is it worth all this? Is it worth putting your life and safety on the line?
Everything that I have described here came from media coverage of Black Friday Shopping. So, NO! Absolutely, positively NO. It is not worth fighting, scratching, screaming, bleeding and hurting other people just to save fifty bucks on the latest electronic gizmo, or the current chintzy toy.
I stayed home yesterday (other than a visit to the vet!) and I will shop locally today. I plan to make as many Christmas gifts as possible this year. After watching yesterday’s national horror show, I will never enter a Wallmart store again. Mass hysteria, mass consumption in an age of want, mass chaos in the aisles of retail stores. Is this what we have become?
There may be times when it is right to gather under tents, to march together and demand to be heard. There may be times when it is worth the risk to face the police, to refuse to disperse, to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in order to make a statement.
Getting a deal on an X Box surely isn’t one of those times.