I recently heard a story on NPR where the commentators wondered how this pandemic will affect the yearly shopping event known as Black Friday in brick and mortar stores. Black Friday: a day when frenzied shoppers push their way into stores, often trampling each other in their rush to the bargains. Many shoppers camp outside in all kinds of weather. I’m wondering how people will be able to practice social distancing when diving for merchandise, if everyone will wear masks, if hand sanitizers will be available, and if there will be plexiglass screens. (I imagine many people will shop online this year.) While I can understand the need for affordable merchandise when it comes to holiday shopping, we really need to step back and ask the question, “What are we doing to ourselves?”
Our society, our culture, our habits could use a serious reset.
Think about it. Our adult children and especially our grandchildren are caught up in a dysfunctional social construct unlike anything we’ve ever known. They communicate with their thumbs, play online games for hours, post seductive selfies of success and beauty on social media.They are growing up in a country where school shootings are a real threat, scandals happen everyday, and we’ve become desensitized to all the political and interpersonal lies occurring on a daily basis. Is it any wonder that our children’s value systems are a bit skewed?
I’ve witnessed children opening up what seemed like endless presents on Christmas morning. After a momentary “Thank-you,” they rush on to the next present. When all of them are opened, they look around for more. In stark contrast, a friend of mine, who grew up with eleven siblings, told me how she and her sister got one present that they had to share between them. She said they learned to cooperate with each other and took great pleasure in playing with that one present. I’m not advocating for either scenario, but there must be a happy medium between conspicuous consumption and relative lack.
Yesterday, while grocery shopping, there was a young couple who deliberately wore their masks around their necks. They were the only ones in the store not wearing masks and were flaunting it. I tried to keep my distance, but had to pass them as I turned down an aisle. I asked them if they were planning on putting the masks on and they were derisive and rude, the young man saying with a smirky smile, “Have a nice day.”
We need to find a more evolved way. Many of us need to ask more of ourselves – more thoughtfulness, more kindness, more loving support of ourselves and others. We’re sinking under the smothering, life- diminishing, joy-killing weight of unkindness, dishonesty and selfishness.
We must get out from under by insisting on being honest with ourselves and others. We must practice loving kindness, generosity, understanding, gratitude, patience, forgiveness, humility and virtue. Of course, this also means finding ways to hold our healthy boundaries when necessary and not condoning bad behavior.
We’ve lost our way. Our adult children have lost their way. Our society has lost its way. We need to take sure steps forward, out of this nightmare of discord, fear and hatred to the clearing, to the safe place where we can breathe again, with love in our hearts for all.
If you choose to go shopping in a store on Black Friday, let others beat you to the bargain tables. Wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer. Or shop online. Or make a personal, thoughtful gift. Or give a card to someone expressing your love for them in writing. There is no gift more priceless than the gift of love.