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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

What Happened to America?
(Part Two)

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

Last week, I wrote a column about a nineteen year old boy in Florida who committed suicide on the internet and only one of the thousands who were watching this take place bothered to call the police. Oh, and did I mention that the young man posted his name and address? What a shame.

This week I wanted to write something about the upcoming holiday season and try to be in a more upbeat festive mood, but things just keep getting in my way. I really did have good intentions.

So what am I going to discuss this week?

Holiday shopping at its worst.

The day after Thanksgiving, up in someplace called Valley Stream, New York a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by the crowds rushing in to buy their on sale Christmas items. The police had been called to the store at 3:30 in the morning to help with crowd control. By 5:30 am the crowd was out of control and had become what one observer called a Ďrabbleí. Wal-Mart workers tried to calm the crowd down but had no success. The glass to the doors shattered from the force of the 2,000 customers and as the mob made its way into the building, one 34 year old Wal-Mart worker was crushed to death as the Ďholidayí crowd rushed over him.

Four other people, including one pregnant woman were injured and taken to a local hospital.

No wonder other parts of the world have a low opinion of our country.

Iíve read reports where people in some parts of the world are living on less than a dollar a day. What do you think goes on in their minds when they read that Americans are stampeding over each other to buy flat screen televisions and other Christmas presents while they were on sale. The people in other countries are fighting over each other for food and a chance to survive, not game boys, cdís, tank tops and tennis shoes.

To add insult to injury, when the police arrived and wanted to close the store since it was a crime scene, many of the customers refused to leave and told the officers they werenít going until they had finished shopping because they stood in line for so long and didnít think it was fair to make them leave.

Iíll bet the dead guy didnít think it was fair either.

I have been fortunate to have never been in a crowd as wild as this appeared to be, but I can tell you that if I were to enter a store or anywhere else for that matter and felt myself walking over a body, I do believe I would be aware of it and would want to either help or get some help for whoever was laying on the ground. How could you not notice that you were or had been stepping on another human body?

Are Christmas gifts so important that people need to wait outside of some building for hours on end and then participate in the unnecessary murder of a store worker? I donít know about you, but if I had been there, I think I would have wanted to go on home and call it a day and forget the shopping until some other time. No gift I have ever bought is worth someoneís life.

Come to think of it, the best gifts I have even been given have been simple, even homemade, not some expensive do-dad that was the hottest thing on the market that year.

Perhaps we need to step back and look at the real reason we even celebrate this time of the year. It isnít about the gifts or what they mean, itís about relationships. Itís telling our friends and family that we are thinking of them and that we love them. Why do we send Christmas cards in the first place? Because itís simply to let people know that even though we havenít talked to them for a year or so, we still consider them to be our friends.

It certainly isnít about a gift on sale at some store where you have to stand in line for hours and then some poor unsuspecting clerk gets killed while trying to do his job. The people who find nothing wrong with their behavior should not be called shoppers, they should be called savages.

They donít deserve Christmas.

© Peary Perry

Letters From North America December 10, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

Related Topic: Christmas in Texas

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