Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition where we are able to give thanks (to God) for all that we have been blessed with, especially family and friends. The following day, Black Friday, is an over-excessive nationwide shopping spree in the US, paying homage to the gods of materialism and ourselves, stuffing our lives full of typically unnecessary merchandise with money that we have yet to earn. What an amazing and tragic cultural event to ‘witness’! From the swamps of Asia to ultimate consumers paradise in the US, is a cultural adjustment only a few of us get to experience and something I would not wish on anyone. Considering the high intellectual plateau, the deep moral concern and amazing technological advancement we self-proclaim in the west, I sure was fooled after witnessing the last week in the US. I am convinced more than ever that there is one thing that connects mankind across nations, languages and cultures.
The condition of the human heart!
While man is capable at times of being good, we all have sin-stained hearts. Two stains in the human heart are envy and greed. The greater the consumer exposure to available merchandise (not necessarily affordable), the more evident the sin of materialism becomes. The case in point is Black Friday in the US.
What could be so important to justify:
1) Disrespecting authority and pushing others to the side to save a few dollars on a computer game console?
2) Causing a parent to run through the crowd, leaving their child, to save some cash on an iPhone?
3) Starting a fistfight or shooting someone to get a cheap tv?
4) Stabbing another person over a car parking space?
Don’t be so naive to think that it is only a certain few that would act this way. Ok, not everyone is out stabbing people for parking spaces but I am sure more than a few pushed and shoved like they normally wouldn’t, for the single purpose to get their hands on that KitchenAid for $199. To be clear, 97 million Americans actually went out to the shops on Black Friday and spent approximately $60 BILLION! That is an average of $600 each. Not bad for 1 day in a hurting economy! After 5 years of living in the developing world, I trust you will excuse this moment of frustration due to witnessing the extremes of economic disparity. Here in the west, we want it (whatever that is) and we want it NOW!
For those of us shopping online this Black Friday, let us not be too quick to judge the ‘crazy’ 97 million who risked life and limb at the actual shops. While actions express an attitude, it doesn’t make them any worse than the attitude itself. How many online shoppers cussed at the computer screen on Black Friday? How many missed that 30% off Lego item because it took the computer more than 15 seconds to process the order? I am sure there was more than one person who wanted to punch the computer in the “face”. Were we gracious in defeat within retail cyberspace or was our attitude lacking in grace and mercy as well?
It seems that our greed and envy, combined with our egotistical attitude for entitlement, will drive a man or woman to do things that are plain wrong. It is as though our appetite for material consumption has engulfed our responsibility towards each other. It is expected that others treat me a certain way and I will reciprocate that … unless they get in my way to get one of only ten cheap XBox One consoles. We know it is not right for people to treat us this way so why do we often treat others the same way? Aren’t we often appalled by some of the extreme behaviours we see, knowing that our attitude is not always that different if we really think about it? This prompts the question of what is right and wrong and why do we feel so passionate about it? If we do not believe in objective right and wrong, we are nothing but hypocrites if we agree with anything written above.
The condition of sin has left none of us untouched if we are truly honest with ourselves. If you are not convinced, look over the ten commandments quickly and think if there was ever a time when you broke one of the commandments either in action, word, or thought. If you don’t like the ten commandments, have you always, without fail, treated others as you would have them treat you (actions, words and thoughts)? We might think that we are pretty good by our own standards or others standards but whose standards are we to use as the benchmark? This is the dilemma of relative morality. As soon as one person puts their moral standards over another’s, they have rejected relative morality and established objective morality using their own standards as the benchmark. It is self-defeating and illogical.
The fact that we all believe there is right and wrong means there must be ethical or moral guidelines. Because relative morality is illogical, their must be objective morality. The benchmark for objective morality must come from one outside of the moral framework, the Moral Law Giver. This person can be none other than God.
As long as we replace God with ourselves as the Lord of our lives, we will continue in this egotistical downward spiral. Black Friday only illuminates the reality of our sinful attitudes and desires, our black hearts. Only God, the Moral Law Giver, can give us an objective morality that will prevent mankind from self destruction. Only Christ can free us from our sin, transform our hearts and attitudes, and make us right with God. If we submit to God’s moral law, or the natural law, we will still make mistakes but it will give us the framework for a healthy community for all people, God-fearers or not.
Cross posted on “When Worldview Collide“