Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There Are No More Holy Days

That I have mustered any small amount of faith in general humanity can likely be attributed to time spent with friendly colleagues and a reclusive home life. I find it hard to maintain such faith right now.

The short of it, if you don't feel like reading the article, is that an employee was trampled to death by a large group of customers when their store opened on Black Friday. You can find the store name and location from the above link if it really matters to you.

I am not purchasing any gifts this year. I will not accept any holiday gifts. I will accept and read cards, and may or may not send some of my own (I'm not good at that sort of thing, so probably not). Please do not include money in any of these cards if you send one, as that is a gray area that I would rather avoid. I will be coming home for Christmas, unless we miss our deadline and need to work through the holidays - and even then, I will give bountiful weight to a family that has always been there for me over an industry of amateurish practice and poor scheduling that abandoned me during a crisis.

If you know of someone considering purchasing a gift for me, please send them a link to this blog post or describe it to them so they can comply. I promise you I will not accept material gifts. If you end up presenting me with one, I will reimburse you for the cost and give it to charity or a friend, or throw it away if it is perishable. I am insisting on this as a means of communicating my belief that love, when I can believe in it, is non-seasonal, not tide-locked to the rhythm of excessive capitalism.

I will think no less of anyone who decides to exchange gifts among themselves. I do encourage you to ask yourselves the following questions, or at least to skim through them.

1.) Why am I getting gifts for people around me? What am I trying to communicate, if anything, to those people (your intended "message")?
2.) Why am I doing so at this time of year, as opposed to other times of the year?
3.) Is my message any less true at other times of the year?
4.) If you are religious, how does giving gifts in an annual manner coincide with your beliefs (if at all)? Would giving gifts at another time of the year lessen this connection? Does giving gifts now muddy any spiritual aspects of the season?

If nothing else, perhaps holding off on gifts will prove relieving in our current economy. May you have better Holidays than the family of Jdimytai Damour...

3 comments:

wallsdad said...

I too was upset and disturbed when I heard of this tragedy. The only way I can maintain faith in humanity in the face of stories like this is to divide humankind into "US" and "THEM".

First, I must determine who "US" consists of. "US" are the coworkers who braved the crowd to try to help this poor man. "US" are the police and emergency workers who responded to handle the tragedy. I suspect that Jdimytai Damour was one of "US".

I try to live my life and persistently reevaluate the way I live it so that I am always one of "US".

You see "US" know there are things bigger and more important than ourselves. That our worth lies in contributing to those we interact with and society as a whole.

There is another, local, story of a single "THEM" who stole a large forklift at 2:30AM and went on a drunken rampage. Police tried to stop him by shooting the tires out to no avail. Only after he picked up a car on the forks and dumped it on top of an innocent bystander did they shoot and kill him. He was out on bail from charges where he stole a car and smashed it intentionally into 6 parked cars, again drunk, months ago.

The victim was one of "US". A retired Major with the Salvation Army who spent his life helping people in need. He had stepped into his yard to see what was going on.

Now for two stories about "US". Ironically one involves Walmart. An elderly couple appeared on the local news to tell of standing at the checkout with $58 of merchandise. A young lady they didn't know stepped forward and asked if she could pay for it. When they thankfully declined she insisted that she just wanted to, and did. Maybe the true miracle here is it made the news.

In the other story, a woman attended an auction of foreclosed property with her husband. She really didn't intend to buy anything herself. She unsuccessfully tried to engage the lady beside her in idle chat, but she seemed distracted. When she once again tried to talk to her the lady explained that she was there to see her home auctioned off and just wasn't in a conversant mood. "This is my home coming up,"
she explained. The first lady started bidding on the house,asking "Is it worth that?" with each bid. When bidding ended she had bought the home and had to virtually chase the lady down to tell her she had bought it so the lady could keep it, paying her whatever she could afford until she paid it off.

There are "US" of every race, creed, religious and non-religious affilliation. "THEM" are similarly distributed.

I seem to be, for the most part, surrounded by "US". Rarely do I encounter "THEM" in my daily life. So I will take the opportunity of the Holiday season to buy gifts for the "US" in my life to express my appreciation for them being one of "US".

As to the other questions posed, as a Christian (admittedly not necessarily a model one) the symbolism of giving gifts in this season rests in the belief that the birth of Christ was God's ultimate gift of His son to mankind with the purpose of creating as many of "US" as He could. As I said before, "US" is not synonymous with Christian. But I feel that the foundation of this and most all other religions rests in teaching us how we should strive to be one of "US".

As for eiyukabe, I will just take this opportunity to thank you for being one of "US" and express my true respect and understanding for your decision. Please accept this gift in the spirit it is offered.

See you at Christmas, God willing! ;)

eiyukabe said...

Thanks, it's good to hear some uplifting stories. I suppose your mood could be made by whatever news article you happen to read when you find the time, if you let it. It's somehow harder, though, to fathom an event that ends in tragedy because of such negligence than one that ends in intentional tragedy because of hatred and conflict. Or maybe I'm just tired.

Staying up late again tonight, but we should be wrapping up by the end of today :).

Eric Ritz said...

I bought you a PS3 but, eh... Threw it away now. Oh well.

Religiously I have no affinity for Christmas, but at the same time I see a lot of good in the holiday season. For most people (in my experience anyways) it becomes a time of getting together with family and friends and expressing gratitude for those relationships. Of course people should always have this attitude, but if it takes Christmas to light that fire then that's ok with me.