Sam Rasoul | Terrorism and consumerism: Different pains converge

The attacks in Mumbai brought to the front page more senseless bloodshed by brainwashed radicals wanting to gain recognition through terror. Virginia lost two of her own, including a 13 year-old girl from Nelson County, in the attacks over the holiday weekend by anti-Indian, Pakistani gunmen.

By one account, the terrorists wanted to inflict a great deal of harm in a relatively short period of time by killing 10,000 people. The type of pain delivered through terrorism is a swift, deep puncture into our normal lives.

These days we also feel a different, more subtle pain in our wallets. Now that the recession is official (Americans gasp a collective duh), politicians and economists ask us to spend in order to rev our economic engine. When the most powerful leader in the free world told the American populous after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th to “go out and shop” to solve our economic woes, he reflected a national moral bearing that had gone astray.

Spending more helps us climb out of recession quicker, but increased short-term spending won’t help our society with the ailment of consumerism which results from decades of training generations to “keep up with the Joneses.”

In 2006, we did not accumulate savings as a country for the first time in recent history. A negative savings rate is partially the result of loose credit regulations, which allowed consumers to spend far beyond their means. Buying the next best widget gave us a false sense of security as both consumers and elected officials neglected other spending priorities, such as health care, education and retirement.

The subtle long-lasting pain of consumerism and the swift, deep pain of terrorism converged on Black Friday after this past Thanksgiving. A black Friday it was for a Wal-Mart employee in New York, Jsimytai Damour, who lost his life after being bum-rushed by 200 bargain-crazed shoppers on the biggest shopping day of the year.

The madness of consumerism, much like the madness of the Mumbai terrorists, took human life last Friday in a less than subtle way.

Both pose a threat to our nation’s long-term stability. We must be diligent in protecting our republic from those outside of our boarders who wish to harm our way of life, but we must also be cognitive of the moral decay in our society which has resulted in special interests controlling our government and “Tickle Me Elmo” running our families.

 

– Column by Sam Rasoul


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