Dec 9, 2008
Tragic. Sad. Lamentable. Despicable. No one word can describe the Black Friday death of a 34 year-old Haitian man. Despite dire predictions based on an economy in crisis, shoppers spent more than $10.6 billion. They braved the early morning darkness to line up in front of stores for holiday sales. In Valley Stream, Long Island, an impatient crowd of 200 shoppers rushed the doors of a store. In their zeal for bargains to make their own lives more comfortable, they stampeded to death a young man merely trying to earn a living. It all took place just before 5 AM on November 28, 2008.
Certainly, not one of them valued a single bargain more than a young man’s life. But their actions showed otherwise. Certainly, no one intended to kill the young man. But they did! Moments of such gross self-absorption should make us stop and think. Is this an isolated incident? Or, is this symptomatic of our age? Has the pace of life today spun us into a whirlwind of self-centered impatience that blinds us to those around us?
There is no doubt that we live at a faster pace than our parents. An international study recently tested 70 people in 35 cities and concluded that people are actually walking 10% faster than ten years ago. We are a people in a hurry. We gulp our soda. We devour our food. We bolt for the door. Most Americans eat one of every five meals away from home. Four out of 10 meals not eaten at home are at fast food places. Fast foods are more popular than ever. Instant coffee. Instant soup. Instant pizza. The microwave is not just a convenience. It is a symbol of life that keeps accelerating each day.
Even the way we communicate with each other is on rapid fast-forward. Emails. Cell-phones. Instant text-messaging. In an ordinary face to face conversation, we average about 160 words per minute. But, TV and radio commercials attack us with 210 per minute. Time is money. No word wasted. Fast, rapid speech is just another example of how we hurry from one thing to the next.