Friday, November 24, 2006
I awoke at exactly 5:00 a.m. this morning. I couldn't have been more precise had I set an alarm. As I stared out through narrowly slit eyelids at the clock I was holding at extended arm's length, my very first thought was, "They're unlocking the doors at Wal-Mart this very minute for the thousands of early shoppers vying for one of the twenty-five nineteen inch color TV's for $59.00, to include remote control." (Okay, so maybe I didn't think the "to include remote control" part.)
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Forgive me if I'm bit snarkier than usual today. Many years ago I braved the cold and dark to shop one of those impossible Friday - after - Thanksgiving bargains futilely. Arriving about an hour before opening, I was stunned by the line, already hundreds of shoppers long. I had as much chance of snagging one of those below cost color TV's as winning the lottery.
I decided to forgo the thrill of the chase, of the chance to elbow an expectant mom in the ribs for position in the mob, or maybe trample over an unfortunate Grandma who'd fallen in the narrow doorway entrance. All in the spirit of the season.
Back in the 90's in a discussion with the head of the local community college's sociology department, I'd mentioned how desperate Americans are for community. It was the time of the OJ Simpson trial and as I suggested to him, if nothing else, a community of obsessed Americans had developed as a result of the gruesome murders. It was the topic of conversation at the workplace. "Think he did it?" was conversation starters among total strangers.
Around that same time I read of literally tens of thousands of Saturn owners attending Saturn owner's "reunions." Apparently a community would come together for a day of food, games, and story exchanges about the one thing that was the glue of the group--owning a freakin' Saturn!
The professor found my definition of communities intriguing, he said. Today I ponder if those shoppers standing out in the cold and dark across the nation aren't a community also? Collectively they all share something in common. That is, until the doors open when it becomes every man, woman and child for themselves and the tempers and bruisings begin. I'm not sure, if these are communities, how cohesive they are.
But what reminded me of this all the past week was the revival of the OJ Simpson community. With the impending Fox appearance of OJ describing to us all how he would have done it had he done it on air and in his upcoming book, the OJ Simpson murder fans seemed to reawaken. And in the most surprising turn of events, the apparent outrage of the community cancelled both OJ's Fox TV appearances and the book!
Well, here we are with one week remaining in November plus one month remaining in the year. The death toll of American GI's in Iraq is approaching 2,900 and I'm wondering--if we have a really good December--we might not hit the 3,000 killed mark by year's end. Is that an outrageous thought? Absolutely, but it's certainly not unrealistic, right?
Which brings up another conundrum I have with the concept of communities. In that they are supposedly a distinct segment of society which shares a common interest with others of their group, the anti-war community seems to be growing; to now include the majority of Americans.
Yet, unlike Saturn owners who can actually organize a reunion of games, food and fun for a day or an OJ Simpson community that can cancel TV appearances and publication of his book, or a group of shoppers who can come together one grand day a year to kick off a holiday season by elbowing and punching out fellows shopper for a cheap iPod, there exists an even greater community--that of those who oppose the war that is killing our own and others for lies.
Maybe I'm way off base here. Maybe this growing anti-war sentiment does not a community make. Communities often take action or bring about a desired event or result. This doesn't seem possible among this group.
So rather than ponder this at any length, maybe I'll distract myself by joining the community of shoppers today. And if lucky, maybe I'll still score a bargain. And maybe if the next five weeks are really good, the death toll in Iraq will top 3,000 by year's end? Seems all so obscene.