Friday, November 16, 2012

Black Thursday

Black Friday is synonymous with gigantic televisions, the latest gaming systems, Tickle-Me-Elmo's, long lines, trampling people, and mass hysteria.  This is the most hyped shopping day of the year.  This is a highlighted day for owners, workers, and shoppers alike as it kicks off the Christmas shopping season.  Millions of people scrounging for deals to wrap in elaborate boxes and place under artificially lit trees.  No one is excluded from the commercial chaos.  I once worked for a Christian retailer who once lectured me about this day and season was about making money (silly me thinking it was about a birth).

It's a day we throw away our money, our common sense, and our common courtesy.  It is a day of the survival of the fittest.  The weak are trampled, the slow are left behind, and the broke are imprisoned behind scanners for 16 hours straight with the promise of longer hours to come during the "most wonderful time of the year."

Is it not bad enough Black Friday comes hours after we celebrate being thankful for what we have?  Now stores are opening sooner.  Not just 3:00 am Friday morning, but now even 8:00 pm on Thursday night.  Now families who had to work on little sleep after Thanksgiving will not be able to have any Thanksgiving at all.  Thanksgiving will soon be a holiday reserved for the wealthy who are not forced to work customer service jobs. Have we all gone crazy?

Wal-Mart, our nation's largest employer, is following suite.  Wal-Mart already has a terrible record with managing its employees.  They already have unlivable wages, scarce access to health care, and discrimination lawsuits enough to backlog the courts for several years.  Their record on the environment is reckless, and their concern for local business is nonexistent.  Now Wal-Mart is opening on Thanksgiving "for their customers."  It is not enough to steal employees from their beds in the wee hours following Thanksgiving, now they are stealing them away from the dinner table so that they can provide our country with things we do not need. 

Black Friday has moved over to Black Thursday, and it seems that the darkness is spreading. 

The truth is we don't need a Black Thursday, and we don't need a Black Friday, what we need is a Good Friday, a Friday where work is not done through shopping malls and super-stores, but where work is done by God himself mending our hearts, our families, our nation, and our world.  We need days of Sabbaths, to remember God's work for us.  We do not need to jump start our economy, or get a head start on our shopping, we do not need to grab tents and wait in line, we need to gather together around the table and wait for the Lord.

There are people who have had enough.  Wal-Mart employees have already started walking out.  People have signed petitions and made promises not to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday for the employee's sake.  This all gets me excited and hopeful.

The truth is if we continue to head down the path over manic materialism we will not have to worry about any fiscal cliff, because we will have already fallen so far there will be no else further to go.

Not that shopping is wrong in itself.  But let us be honest, haven't we gone so far overboard that it has become downright unhealthy, disturbing, and just plain wrong?

 I would not dream of asking employees to stay home, that would be unfair, but I am asking employers to close their shops and trust in the Lord, I am asking shoppers to stay home and "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Please let us stay home, let us be thankful, and let us enjoy a Sabbath rest.