Monday, December 8, 2008

Tis' The Season

His name was Jdimytai Damour, he was 34, and you probably do not know who he was, because he was not famous, not a spokesman for anything, not a politician, sports star, or celebrity. He was a big man -- 270 pounds -- and everyone who knew him liked him.

And he died.

He did not die the heroic death of a firefighter struggling to save people from a burning building, or that of a soldier fending off the enemy while his comrades were evacuated to safety. He did not even die the regrettable death of Sean Bell, in a hail of police bullets.

He was trampled. Crushed. Crushed by an insensitive human mob, bent on getting the best holiday deal on toys, TVs, or clothing. A tsunami of humanity, surging into a Valley Stream, NY Wal-Mart as if they were an infantry division hitting the beach at Normandy. And in the end, Jdimytai Damour was a casualty, along with human decency and intelligence.

We sit in the economic crisis strangling this country precisely because of the rampant consumerism that brought about this tragedy. The desire of the masses to possess the latest and greatest merchandise led to the overspending of credit, the purchasing of homes beyond the means of money, and the attempt to spend money that did not exist, in the form of home equity. People have been told repeatedly, daily, by Madison Avenue, that they must possess more and better things.

And this striving for the latest and greatest has overwhelmed the spirit of the season we are now in, a season which creeps closer and closer to Summer as every year passes. The lessons of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even the Winter Solstice have been swept under the rising tide of holiday sales and bargains galore. In a time of need, when families are watching their greatest asset, their homes, being taken from them, when job cuts leave many on unemployment, unable to pay their bills, and when the need for charity is at its greatest, thousands line up outside stores at obscene hours of the day, all to pinch pennies on gifts for themselves or others. Pennies which do not find their way into the coffers of the charities that could so desperately use them.

While not all people ascribe to Christianity as their belief system of choice, it is interesting to note that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a man, the Son of God for those who believe, who preached a simple message: we are all in this together. We must reach out to each other, help each other, no matter who we are or what our place in life. We can gain great peace in knowing that we have striven to not only help ourselves, but our fellow human beings. We must come together, and we must be willing to put all differences aside, for the greater good. Also interesting to note that he died at the hands of his fellow men, as was ordained, in order to hopefully save their souls.

Jdimytai Damour's death cannot be said to be as dramatic as that of Christ, but it should carry no less powerful a message. If a man's life must be forfeit, let it be for the good of all, rather than a mere pittance for a few. Let us choose to be better than mere rabble. Let us take the energy of our lust for goods, and turn it to a lust for good. Let us be pained when we cannot help others in their hour of need. When anyone falls, let a hundred hands reach out to pull that person up. Though we may have little money to give, let us give as much of ourselves as we can. Perhaps if we do these things, there can be some redemption for this man's pointless death.

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