the “greed of humanity”?

Lately I’ve come across a few videos that were “scripted” with the intention of pointing up the chinks in human nature. The most recent was a scripted video depicting the year long arc of an abusive relationship.   It seemed to be thoughtfully produced and had validity as, perhaps, a public service announcement.  The video below,”the greed of humanity,” is another and has agitated some flakes in the snowglobe.  Interesting? Yes. Valuable? Yes.  And, as a mirror for behavior, it has serious merit.

NOTE:  You can’t hear it on this version of the video but, once the crowd gets into the warehouse, Alexander Wang tells them they can take whatever they want FOR FREE; there are no bags or boxes, they can carry as much stuff out in any way they want.  For FREE.

First let me say that I’m NOT condoning or excusing the behavior at all. I think it’s reprehensible to fight and hurt others over “stuff.” But of COURSE this would happen. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT?  Feels like a scripted, directed video but, even so, he’s giving away designer clothing for FREE???? F.R.E.E.  People act that way “for CHEAP” as evidenced by the bedlam that ensues on Black Friday. Folks aren’t like that under “normal” circumstances but bargains and/or the degree of perceived need seems to ignite the Illness of ” *I* want and must have” rather than the Wellness of ” *We* can share in the experience.”

Is this “The greed of humanity?” OR Are we just initially built this way so that we have a place from which to evolve as part of our spiritual quest?

During my high school and college years I worked in a well established children’s clothing store. It was back in the days when folks shopped in the mom and pop shops on the local “main street” or, in this case, Central Avenue.  For Jersey folks, it was back before Garden State Plaza had a roof.  Meyer’s Youth Center had GREAT inventory and much of it leaned toward the higher end of the price scale.  Every year, after the holidays, we’d close for a couple of days and prepare for the HUGE annual sale.  Every year our steady customers, and their friends, would crowd into the lobby eagerly waiting for the doors to open.  BTW, none of us inside the store wanted the dangerous job of opening the door to the onslaught of the drooling mob but I usually braved the consequences by opening the door and adroitly leaping out of the way.  It WAS both dangerous and oddly funny to see regular customers who were normally lovely people transformed into tasmanian she-devils as they ran around, willy nilly, dragging the kids, picking through and tossing things while looking for the best buys.  Leftover snow suits were usually the big seller … folks would buy them a size or two bigger for use next year.  You’d think we were “giving the stuff away.” There was never any pushing or shoving, though, and no one ever got hurt or fought but the transformation was clearly insane and would be the topic of conversation for weeks after.

Fast forward a bit to when I was a newly married Jersey girl, back when dirt was invented, I think.  Someone clued me in on a FABULOUS place where one could buy curtains, draperies, etc. for REALLY deep discounts. The place … Marburn Warehouse. So I went. Once. There was no special sale going on, no special event, it was just a normal day at Marburn. And it was crowded. And I was IN the crowd of tasmanian she-devils.  There were, indeed, very deep discounts and TONS of home decor hanging on racks, from the ceilings and packed into laundry bins along the floor.  It was a big overwhelming and I was pushed and pulled and knocked around by women grabbing over and around me for various items.  As if I was invisible or, worse, insignificant.  And when I got knocked INTO one of the laundry bins …. I decided that NO discount was as deep as that bin OR my humiliation.

I left with nothing and never went back. I’d rather pay more money to shop quietly, like a human being, in other home decor shops.  To this day I steer clear of places like Marburn and huge sales events.

Light and dark.  We are both of them together.  So, whether it’s Marburn back in the early ’80s, or the bedlam that ensues on “Black Friday,” the prospect of deeply discounted goods seems to tap into the darker side of our species in varying degrees.  Shopping excursions turn into wars into which we march, armed and dangerous … fight or flight (or, in my case, freeze) response engaged.  My war, the time I was always at my worst, happened while shopping for groceries needed for holiday meals.  Amped up by our desire for THINGS we become completely disconnected from and blind to each other; shopping at the expense of others rather than sharing a beneficial experience with others who, like us, would like to save a couple of bucks.

So, back to the video.  In this case, we see tons of young folks, TONS of ’em, enticed to attend a “secret” event at which they’re presented with the task of competing for and collecting as much Alexander Wang clothing as they can handle … for FREE … cause and effect produces reflex and the aggressive, compulsive reptilian brain springs right into action to the exclusion of all reason.  I WANT … I WILL HAVE (7 of them) … IT’S MINE … I WILL FIGHT FOR IT.    Greed of humanity?  OR Simply … Human?  Fascinating?

I wonder …

In that moment, at that event, what would YOU do?  Who would YOU be? How deep is the root of your greed weed seed?

And where, in the big picture, is the parent root of the greed weed seed?  Is it another “chicken or egg” dilemma?

Is it in our culture, creating the false impression that the more nice/prestigious “things” you have, the more successful/happy you are?

Is it in the designer/artisan/store/theatre/concert arena/sports venue, etc. who CAN command sooooo much money for their merchandise because they KNOW we will move heaven and earth and people aside for that bargain, or to have that thing/service

Is it in the simple desire in each of us to have those “things” for the perceived happiness/success they supposedly bring  …. at the expense of others?

Hmmm … at the expense of others.

As Leonard Cohen so beautifully wrote in his “Anthem,” “There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”  Human nature is, by nature, cracked.  We are NEVER not broken.  And it’s in the cracks and breaks, in our darkness where we can find our light, our strength and vulnerability, our uniqueness and connection.

We ALL are THEM at one time or another.  And as a mirror, each dark experience provides “teachable moments” if we’re ready to receive them.  When we’re open to fully seeing, embracing and exploring our own cracks at the expense of the darkness of others, we become more compassionate, more loving, more present to others and to ourselves.  We learn to stand in our own ground, or in our own mud, more firmly.

And perhaps, while shopping for those bargains or accumulating things, a little more mindful of everything and everyone around us.

Peace & blessings

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