Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Would You Kill For?

I don't usually commentate on current events because 1) there are others better informed than me, and 2) if you wanted the news you'd be reading a news site right now instead of mine. But one news story I heard today I can't get out of my mind, so you get to hear about it.

I actually wanted to entitle this blog post "Greedy SOB's" or few other choice words that I know some of you would find very offensive. I felt that the perpetrators of this act deserved something shocking and disrespectful--BUT--out of respect to you, the readers, I've gone a different direction.

If you haven't read the story yet about a Wal-Mart employee being trampled by a rabid mob, you can catch the story here, and then learn a little bit more here.

I am apalled. Worse than appalled; I am FURIOUS! What kind of a person breaks down store doors in order to grab a shiny plastic toy 5 minutes earlier than planned? What kind of a person shoves to the ground anyone who stands between them and $10 dollars off a digital camera? What kind of a person trips on an injured man and leaves him gasping for air on the floor so they can scamper to the electronics section and grab a plasma TV? Unfortunately, there were thousands of such monstrous individuals ammassed in front of a New York Wal-Mart this morning.

Imagine those who came home from shopping, wiped the [metaphorical] blood off their feet and went inside to wrap up their "bargain" gifts! "Don't you love your new mp3 player? I stepped on a man's head to get it for you!"

I am so angry at these people! How dare they assume that the life and safety of another is worth less than the plastic and metal gadgets they heaped into their carts? I wish there were a way to prosecute every single person who stepped on or over this man in their rush to snatch something before anyone else could. These people are MONSTERS. Horrible, terrible monsters that remind us of the worst things possible about humanity--the darkest parts of our grimy souls.

I am also angry at the store. This is not a Wal-Mart tirade--I'll let someone else write that blog. This is a tirade against Any Store--because that's where this could have happened. One of your employees was killed--killed--in the line of duty serving your store. And to honor him you shut the store down--for five hours! You shuttled off the injured, cleaned up the mess as best you could, and reopened your mangled doors because not to do so would be to lose your largest day of profits of the year. Take some responsibility! Show shoppers that they CANNOT trample a man to death and just come back later to get the deal they so wanted. Close your store--close all your stores! Refuse to open your store on Black Friday next year as a way to honor your victim and prove to the crowds that you will not tolerate violence--even in the name of Materialistic Consumerism, that god of these masses.

But that will never happen.

Maybe those of you who think that it's strange for me to get so riled up over this incident are right. I know there are further-reaching tragedies occuring in the world. I am definitely not saying by addressing this one incident that this one loss is worse than the hundreds of lives lost, for instance, in the recent Mumbai tragedies. These crazy militants terrorize for their ideals--as hateful and horrible of ideals as they may be. They are wrong and their crimes have sickened and saddened the world at large. We have learned to expect such behavior from violent radical political and religious groups who value their ideals over their lives and the lives of others. But today we have been confronted with a new group of people--a group of seemingly innocuous shoppers hunting for christmas gifts for family and friends--and we have learned that from them we can expect senseless and remorseless violence for discounted price on some piece of thing that will more than likely be within in a landfill within 10 years. Which heart is uglier? The twisted heart that aligns itself to a horrible and violent cause or the apathetic heart that cares nothing for the man gasping for breath on the floor, but eagerly runs off to fill their cart with gadgets? At this moment, I feel that they have similarities we may hesitate to recognize. Both view others as objects that stand between them and their gods--whether their god is a twisted ideal or an iPod deal. And both have killed in the name of their god.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hope for An Overcast Heart

Generally I love fall; the colors and scents blend together in a way that makes me smile with secret delight. But this fall has felt darker to me, as if it's nothing more than an omen of fast-approaching emptiness of winter.

It had been mostly cloudy for a few days in a row and then on Wednesday it started to rain. It rained and rained and rained until gutters and drain grates were clogged and everywhere there were streams pouring off of roofs and lakes collecting on roadways and intersections. The sky was filled so thickly with clouds and precipitation that daylight seemed like dusk and dusk like midnight. In the oppressive grayness of Wednesday I saw that the tree branches were mostly empty and the leaves that lingered were wilted brown dripping sludge from their limp forms. There was no color, there was no life, there was no beauty there. Just unending ugliness and death--winter had already come.

But today something surprising happened. I awoke to bright light filtering its way through my blinds. The rain was gone. As I drove Gram to her therapy appointment I was surprised by what I saw along the roadside. Yes, some of the trees were mostly asleep for winter, but many of the seemingly brown trees from the day before were actually still in that drowsy state of being that only trees can achieve with such red, orange, yellow and green beauty. My eyes soaked it all in and each hue brought a ray of warmth to my heart.

Recently my life has been overcast. Depression is an oppressive cloud over my mind and emotions. It is so thick and dark that it blocks the sun from my eyes and shades the colorful leaves of joy and peace and hope from my vision. The world around me is actually the same as it has always been, but when my heart is shrouded in darkness it can barely see the good and beautiful things in life. Instead everything from activities to relationships to the future seem dark and dreary and dead. Although my mind knows the Sun still exists, I can't feel his warmth or nearness.

Today was a good day, though. One thing that I have found helpful in my recent recurring struggle is to recognize that my perceptions are inaccurate, and today was a reminder of that. No matter how dark it feels, the sun is still real, still there, still giving light and warmth--even though I may not feel it--it is there on the other side of the clouds. And no matter how dead and dreary things may seem in this darkness it is only the way I see them not the way things really are, just as the leaves still were multi-colored even though they looked brown and dead in the shadows cast by the clouds.

So, you who are suffering under a cloud of darkness, know that God is here with you though you may not feel him, and that his promises are true though your faith may be faltering. Realize, hopeless heart, that the things that overwhelm you, bring you sadness, anger, self-loathing and despair will not crush you. You will survive them and you will grow through them. And remember that at some point these clouds will clear and life will be warm and beautiful again.

Do not trust your overcast heart. It cannot see what truly is.