I visited the Highline Ballroom the night after Thanksgiving for an “All-Star Tribute to George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh” during which the band performed George’s moving and onerous “Beware of Darkness.” I later went to lyricsfreak.com to re-visit the song, which seemed terribly appropriate to what we now experience on Thanksgiving. The lyrics include:
Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While weeping atlas cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
I then watched an Eyewitness News report describing horrific fights that broke out at various Walmarts and other stores all over the country, as people mindlessly battled each other for discounted merchandise.
It seems millions of American consumers have become quite irrational about holiday shopping, having been moved to action by “greedy leaders.” Too many of us are going along with the trend of starting Black Friday earlier and earlier (now 8 p.m.) on Thanksgiving Day. We’re clamoring to join the rush of anxious and sometimes dangerous crowds. In reality, we’re witnessing and sometimes falling victim to dark behavior for the sake of quickly boosting retailers’ bottom lines.
Propagandists believe if you repeat anything often enough, it becomes truth. Retailers spend lots of advertising dollars to sell products this time of year, in turn obligating the news media to beat the pre-Black Friday drums. And so we march. Now, I’m not suggesting that retailers shouldn’t make profits or that we don’t look for bargains this time of year, but the barrage of ads and news stories about starting our holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day are designed to influence our attitudes and actions. We’ve become convinced that it’s OK to leave family and friends earlier so we can shop till we drop.
Perhaps we’re being led where we shouldn’t follow. Thanksgiving was never a day to buy gifts, until the retail gods recently decided otherwise. George Harrison was right: Beware of those who take us where we should not go. Your thoughts?