Nathan Graziano was just coming around to believe in the altruistic and kind nature of humanity during the holiday season. Then Black Friday came along.
While I try not to be too cynical, this often requires a conscious effort on my part. Philosophically, I tend to side with the French existential writer Albert Camus and view our shared human condition as meaningless and absurd, which allowed me—before the three World Series rings—to make peace with my lot as a Red Sox fan.
Human beings, however, are also capable of awesome acts of kindness and altruism, and there are times—for example, watching communities come together to heal after a tragedy—when I start to believe that I’m wrong, and our condition may not be so damn irrational. There may be a reason for our existence, and if there is, it may hinge on these selfless acts of kindness and generosity.
Then, as soon as I’ve pulled the cyanide tablet off my tongue, enter Black Friday, and it all goes to hell.
Now, before Team America starts pig-piling on me, exalting the noble virtues of capitalism and calling me a “commie cocksucker,” let me begin by saying that I see nothing wrong with a day that could potentially stimulate our limping economy. Great. America, fuck yeah! Offer sales and dangle carrots to the consumers. Let us all bask in our beautiful, materialistic mud-puddle.
The problem isn’t consumerism. Instead, it is the way we treat one another, and our pursuit to get “stuff” for those people in our lives who desperately need their Starbucks gift certificates.
In this wholly American pursuit of Black Friday value-deals, we stomp on car horns and throw middle fingers like blow-darts in cloistered parking lots. We cut each other in lines and hiss insults; we elbow, and we push, and we shove one another; we see each other as obstacles impeding our will to buy crap as opposed to seeing each other as human beings.
In short, this is humanity at its worst, siphoning all meaning from a holiday season that could potentially celebrate joy, family, selflessness and gratitude.
So if you’re one of those people camped out in the parking lot of a mall on Thursday night, or worse, leaving Thanksgiving dinner to assure you can grab a spot in line and get a discount on an iPad or an X-Box, maybe it is time to settle down, tuck in your elbows and go home to spend your time with the people that matter—not the bewildered herd of other rabid shoppers.
And if someone cares more about the stuff you buy than than the value of your company—and this includes bratty little kids—then maybe it is time that person starts to understand the concept of nothing.
Clearly, in those cases, your gifts have no meaning to them, nor does the value of giving. They are spawns of Eric Cartman on South Park, parasites puking on their own shirts.
On Thursday, feed your face, watch football and nod off in a Tryptophan stupor, but please don’t set the alarm for 5 or 8 p.m., whenever Sears or Best Buy may be opening. Rise above that fray and have a happy holiday.