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Start: We’ve all heard about this:

A temporary employee for the Wal-Mart at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, New York died as a stampede of Black Friday holiday shoppers surged into the store at the 5:00 AM opening time, knocking the doors off of their hinges and blocking efforts by other employees to aid those caught in the chaos.

The New York Times gives us his name — Jdimytai Damour, 34.

When I saw the story, I wanted to verify the authenticity of it, and I did so with this story of the news website for WABC Channel 7, New York, NY.

Like all of us, I was appalled by these details:

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like “savages…When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning.’ They kept shopping.”

The store was closed to incoming shoppers following the incident. Those already inside were escorted out with their purchases.

The article goes on to report accusations and allegations by a prominent grocery worker’s union attempting to paint Wal-Mart accountable.

I’m not a particularly big fan of Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart did not kill Jdimytai Damour.

My condolences and prayers to Damour’s family.

As I’m sure other bloggers have noted, those who caused this should be held accountable, because, as the report noted: “Those already inside were escorted out with their purchases” — obviously they were not about to hold themselves accountable.

It has been already suggested we are talking about manslaughter and complicity to manslaughter.

This man died because he got in the way of a mob intent on doing their holiday shopping, many of whom where preparing for the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ.

If there were such a thing as a blasphemous act, this would be it.

(If someone has pointed this out already, I apologize.)

If I had been there (which I wouldn’t have been because I hate crowds), and had managed to enter the store carried in by this mob unscathed, the moment I learned someone had been killed, I would have, out of simple shock, lost any interest in shopping and left the store.

After this, I would probably would have realized that had I stayed I might have been held, questioned, and possibly charged for participation in the incident.

After this, I would probably begin worrying about the police seeking me out.

Again —

The store was closed to incoming shoppers following the incident. Those already inside were escorted out with their purchases.

This isn’t just callous beyond comprehension … it’s abysmally stupid.

It would be very easy to get caught up in the public hand-wringing that we as a nation do in the aftermath of events like these. And the solution will almost certainly be decided to be that all retail establishments must put procedural and even physical safeguards in place to mitigate these kind of events from happening again.

This is, of course, sidesteps the root cause, and enables something equally mindless and heartless to happen again in the future.

We all know who is to blame. And we know what the root cause is.

We are.

How could a prior generation have raised children who grow up into adulthood to be this devoid of any sense of personal responsibility?

How could we support or even tolerate friends or family who would act like this?

How could anyone have less regard for human life than for getting their shopping out of the way for the season?

How could any human being look him- or herself in the mirror, having been part of this tragedy, and not want to smash the mirror with their bare hands?

The thoughtful among us shake our heads and ask themselves: do we as a species deserve to survive?

Unfortunately, only the thoughtful consider this.

The answer to this question is … yes.

If you are a Buddhist (and maybe even if you aren’t) you may live by the Bodhisattva Ideal, of the need to help all sentient beings towards liberation, toward Nirvana, inner freedom, spiritual salvation.

This is because we are all in this together.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Buddhist or not. The Truth is the Truth.

We will not destroy hate with hate. We will not dissolve callousness with more callousness. We will not stop suffering with more suffering.

We did this.

It isn’t about us and them, because there is no them.

Only us.

We have our work cut out for us.

It’s time to start.

Copyright © 2008, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.


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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller’s short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

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