Black Friday could use a dose of something sorely missing -- civility. So, if you brave the rude and crude crowd this year may you carry with you something different from the rest.
Jesus’ Great Commandment may be most needed on this crazy shopping day -- love God and love neighbor. All I know about Black Friday is what I hear people say and see on TV. I hide. Based on my limited knowledge, it seems lots of people rapaciously go after a limited number of must-have stuff at lowest-of-the-season prices.
If you are intent on going into the melee, remember to love your neighbor as much as yourself, even if it comes down to only one of you getting the must-have toy for your child or grandchild. Think sacrifice, not self-satisfaction. Yale Professor Stephen L. Carter says:
Civility . . . is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together. . . . We should make sacrifices for others not simply because doing so makes social life easier (although it does), but as a signal of respect for our fellow citizens, marking them as full equals, both before the law and before God. Rules of civility are thus also rules of morality: it is morally proper to treat our fellow citizens with respect, and morally improper not to. Our crisis of civility, then, is part of a larger crisis of morality (Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, 11).
Put differently, civility in shopping is a matter of morality. A person of good morals will sacrifice for the sake of others. It is actually quite morally shocking that some people actually brag about “success” in Black Friday shopping. It reflects a broader cultural challenge.
Carter did not address shopping, but he said (in 1998) the deep problem in this society is the “disintegration of social life. We live in an era when the values of the market and of politics . . . are crowding into the social life of the nation. . . ."
And that was written long before the Trump-Clinton election bedevilment of this year.
We all, however, play a part. We can positively impact the people we encounter, and that will be one small step in the direction of civility and, better yet, will be a way of showing we really do love our neighbor as much as ourselves.
You can even tell your fellow shoppers that God, in Christ, loves them. But, for goodness sake, don’t say that or have a cross on a chain or a fish on your car if you’re going to act like everyone else and be selfish and greedy.
Of course, I think we all would do best to just stay home, enjoy some peace and quiet, and realize that no must-have stuff (food, shelter, serviceable clothing, and air) is actually available on sale on Black Friday.