My Thanksgiving break was great… up until Black Friday, when my holiday cheer plummeted to a disheartening Long Island news story. A Wal-Mart worker in Valley Stream was trampled to death by a crowd rushing into the store as it opened its doors this past Friday.
Let me repeat that: A group of people trampled a stranger to death in order to rush into a store to shop for the holidays. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?In a way, this situation is strangely symbolic of a cultural trend.
The drive to gain material possessions can, at times, outweigh our basic capacity to be concerned with the welfare of others. I find this quite tragic. These people were so concerned with getting their stuff that they literally walked right over another human being.
Talk about individualism.Yet this could not have happened without the mob mentality phenomenon allowing it to. Under normal circumstances, I don't think most of those people would have killed someone in order to get into a store to do some holiday shopping. Yet when placed within a large enough group, there was no way to stop the mob from running its course.
Absurdly, police are looking through surveillance videos trying to identify people in the mob. They actually hope to find individual faces to press charges against. This is not a crime that you can blame on one person. You blame it on a mentality; you blame it on a value system.But blame is nothing without change.
This is the unfortunate side to many tragedies that involve accidental deaths. So many times, we talk about how terrible it was for a person to die, and how it was an injustice to end his or her life when it happened. A student gets behind the wheel after having a couple of drinks at a party, gets into an accident, and dies. Another is skating without a helmet and tries to show-off by weaving into traffic, and dies.
A man doing his job faces a mob of people who want to save money on their holiday shopping, and dies. What do we do? We lament that these are such tragedies, and we change nothing. There are friends of the kid who drank too much who, after maybe taking a month off, go right back to partying and over-indulging in alcohol.
There is a friend of the dead skater who, a couple months later, takes a dare from another guy to zip across a busy street on his skateboard. There are people who, next year, will run through shopping malls, physically pushing aside other shoppers as they try to get that awesome gift they just need to have that day.This trend, above all, has to stop. My mother always taught me to try to never make the same mistake twice.
I think it is time for all of us to take this to heart. Next time a tragedy occurs, we can still lament the event and then we surely must honor those who were affected, but we must then go the extra mile. We must change ourselves in order to ensure that the same mistake is not made twice, or three times. Imagine if after the Holocaust, world leaders had allowed genocide to occur again. Oh, wait. . .
Jesse Goldberg is a freshman English major who may cut you off in the parking lot to beat you to his Wii, but draws the line at outright trampling.