Saturday, November 22, 2014

No thanks for the corporate desecration of Thanksgiving

Did you know that many stores are now opening for business on Thanksgiving day? Seems they want to get a jump on the Black Friday shopping frenzy.  Kmart will open for business at 6 a.m. and will stay open for 42 hours.  Why are so many people furious about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? Because this action strikes at the heart of a a number of growing areas of concern among Americans.  First, it is a decision undoubtedly made by wealthy management to open their stores on a national holiday of Thanksgiving in order to make more profit, coming at the expense of their employees, many of whom are struggling to make a living. It adds salt to the wound of the growing divide between the "haves" and "have nots".  Not only does opening stores on Thanksgiving desecrate this national holiday, it also  fuels a crass capitalism of Christmas; the historically sacred remembrance of the birth of Christ. 

Given the decision to open stores on Thanksgiving, feeding a shopping frenzy, one has to question our nation's values.  Does shopping for good deals trump time set apart for a day of remembrance and thanksgiving with friends and family?  What does it say about the rush to ever increase the onset of Christmas shopping?  Instead of a reverential reflection of a humble birth of someone who came to be a servant to the poorest, and those most in need, we've created shopping events where people literally trample over others in order to get a red hot deal.  How radically different this is compared to the life of Jesus, a prophet that comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Seems to me Jesus would be standing on the side of low wage employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving.

Clearly the corporate office decision to open stores on Thanksgiving Day also serves as a painful reminder of the growing division of the wealthy few and the masses, including countless thousands among those struggling to make a living at Kmart, Walmart, etc.  Do you think those in upper management that decided their stores should be open on Thanksgiving will be working behind the counter, or rather enjoying Thanksgiving in their well afforded homes with their families?  

The plight of workers in these stores is evidenced when at an Oklahoma Walmart they're having a food drive to keep one another from going hungry (Walmart workers to share reactions to food bins, announce Black Friday protest cities). Consider the fact that the Walton family members, who own Wal-Mart, have wealth equal to the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined (Just how wealthy is the Walmart Walton Family?).  The Waltons take in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends, yet many of their workers struggle to afford even such necessities as food and shelter. 

Wondering who these corporate businesses are that will be open on Thanksgiving day?  They include Walmart, Macy's Sears/Kmart, Kohl's, Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic, Target, Staples, JCPenny, ToysRus, Sports Authority, Best Buy and RadioShack. The corporate leadership and direction of these companies is starkly different to stores like Costco, where it was announced: "Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families."

Finally timeless thoughts from Abraham Lincoln, who helped form this national holiday after the civil war, which tore at the fabric of the nation... "And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience ... and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

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