Gift. n. n. Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. An item or gesture given freely and happily, often in celebration of an event or holiday. (Emphasis: mine)

I read this story this morning: A Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death and a shopper was trampled until she miscarried, in the 5am rush for holiday bargains. I can only hope that everyone on the stampede is penalized, and that the guilty feet are brought to justice, but I have my doubts. In any case, I hope the whole mob realizes what they’re each responsible for doing, for, in my mind, the whole crowd is responsible. Though some feet did the treading more directly than others, apparently, many still rushed past without stopping to aid a person underfoot, and that’s equally horrible in my mind. Shame on them all, save for whoever called emergency personnel finally.

To me, a holiday is a warm fuzzy, a day to celebrate and enjoy, and maybe a time to give a thoughtful gift of some sort to friends and family as the heart prompts. There is no excuse for what happened at Wal-Mart today, it was greed-culture gone too far, lethal capitalism, really.

But, I think there’s a real opportunity here.

Wal-Mart could act quickly and step forward and say, enough. They could say, this has gone too far, and look, sure it’s nice to give gift to people we love, but let’s refocus on the warm fuzzies, the family and friends, and let’s all say we, from now on, refuse to accept a stressful holiday, and then make it un-stressful.

Wal-Mart could, I don’t know, offer free shipping for online shoppers, or perhaps an incentive to online shoppers only, or maybe simply refuse to have anything to do with “Black Friday” and set holiday sales to start a few days earlier or later (or maybe not at all) and refuse to allow people to camp out in front of the store, refuse to make their hourly-wage employees come in at an insane hour, and just say people, we’re lost control, this is all wrong. Let’s make it right again.

Because, lets not for a minute think otherwise: if a stampede of Wal-Mart shoppers can trample a man to death and cause a woman to miscarry, then what we’re doing is all wrong, and where our focus and priorities lie, as a culture, is horribly, horribly self-centered, stuff-worshipping and, frankly, disgusting.The fact that we, culturally, forget awful things mere days after they happen, and that we continue on without changing our course in the least when things do go awry is proof enough that we’ve got it all wrong.

Because, though we all get stressed out from time to time, running around frazzled all the time doesn’t show accomplishments and effort; it reads out of control and disorganized. And, I get the idea that everyone is overcompensating for their lack of holiday warm fuzzies and family/friend leisure time and organization by buying more and more stuff. And the more stuff we think we must buy, the shittier the versions required to afford it all.

And, I realize I’m probably overestimating the ability of some to change and simplify, but it’s really a matter of just saying “I refuse to accept (blank)” for anything to change, ever.