A struggle’s symbol

During the Great Depression, the events that unfolded in the day-to-day life of the beleaguered citizens of the nation were captured on film and became enduring, iconic symbols of the struggle for survival and dignity. Grainy black and white photos portrayed people waiting in lines for soup and bread or highlighted the windblown desolation of Midwestern farms. Families huddled together inside miserable hovels made from discarded materials in sprawling shantytowns. We have inherited these images and the story they tell of a generationâÄôs courageous effort to overcome. Our struggle is different, and marked by a vile streak of selfishness. The icons of our current crisis have been exasperated Wall Street brokers and soggy-faced CEOs. Now, itâÄôs fatally bargain-hungry mobs. On âÄúBlack FridayâÄù Jdimytai Damour âÄî a temporary employee âÄî was helping Wal-Mart employees unlock the front doors for the 5 a.m. commencement of shopping. As soon as the lock was released, a flood of frothy shoppers rushed forwards with such orgiastic fervor that their rampage left the doors damaged and Damour dead, having been trampled underfoot. The shoppers were reportedly infuriated when they were told that the store would be closing due to the death. And so, we have a symbol of our struggle, where a man lay dead because he chanced to get between a crowd and its bargain. Mr. Damour was a luckless temp, desperate for work and the victim of people desperate for a deal and a store desperate for business. In spite of all hopes to the contrary, our crisis has not taught America to show self-restraint, and we will continue to suffer for it. Because, at this point, we risk losing more than our money; we are bargaining away our dignity.