Sunday, November 30, 2008


From the New York Times:

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene “utter chaos” and said the “crowd was out of control.” As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. “I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not,” he said. “Certainly it was a foreseeable act.”

More here.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Matthew 6:24
Putting aside for the moment the issue about Wal-Mart's traditionally lax security measures, for which the mega-retailer has been sued on more than one occasion, I'd like to make an observation about what this trampling means in terms of consumerism.

That is, the philosophy of consumerism, which implicitly states that happiness is achieved by purchasing various products, is omnipresent within our culture. I mean, think about it for a moment. Advertising is everywhere, literally everywhere: you can probably shift your gaze by about thirty degrees or so wherever you are at the moment and see a corporate logo of some sort reminding you to buy its products--it just now took me less than a second to see the Yamaha logo on my computer speakers. But that's obvious. Think about all the product placement in television and in movies. Think about all the conspicuous consumption you see in most of these shows--Sex and the City and its ilk, like advertising, are obvious, but you see such behavior in almost everything.

Consumerist philosophy is rammed down all our throats every day, all day long.

And most of us buy into it. Most of us buy lots of crap we don't really want or need. We enjoy it for a while and then forget about it and then buy something else. Really, it's the rush of the purchase most people crave, the thrill of owning some new bauble or tool or toy, not the object itself.

Consumerist philosophy is everywhere, and consumerist behavior consumes our souls.

And it's not so weird to talk about our souls in regard to this extraordinarily dominant American philosophy: I go so far as to say that consumerism, and its grip on our psyches, goes beyond philosophy; it is the one true American religion. This is a no-brainer. Americans shop waaaay more than they go to church. Indeed, shopping malls are the real churches, and Mammon, not Yahweh, is the true god of our people. We are not a Christian nation. We are a consumerist nation.

And we're really, really, really zealous about it.

That brings me back to this trampled Wal-Mart worker. I'm sure that most Americans' reactions to this tragedy are of confusion, or horror, or condemnation of these greedy shoppers, only in New York, etc. But when you think of it in terms of religious behavior, rather than in terms of human depravity, it makes a great deal of sense. That is, this kind of incident has been going on for ages, most notably in Mecca and other holy places. This wasn't a shopping frenzy gone terribly wrong. This was religious ecstacy.

And no sense of religious ecstacy can be complete without blood sacrifice.

Happy holidays.