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Alex Baer: Trying to Find Sense, Using Both Hands and a Flashlight

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shopping crowds"This year I wasn't about to kill people."

That's a pretty good attitude to take in general.  It seems even more fitting when talking about a squabble over a Tinker Bell sofa with another Black Friday shopper, as Elizabeth Garcia had done, at a Toys-R-Us site in Times Square last year.

Even without the Body-and-Door-Crushing Super Savings Specials, and shoppers brandishing pistols and other weapons high overhead, trying to get other shoppers to back off from a prized shopping bargain, many people would call today Black Friday anyway.

And not just from the need to make funeral arrangements for a loved one who may have died at a shopping center for the shabby privilege of trying to save a few bucks.  And, not just from referencing other calamitous feeding-frenzy aftermaths, like the stock market crash of 1929.  Just from the sense one gets from the zombie-like compulsions to shop -- from the mindless, automatic need to consume, and from the senseless, bottomless greed grating and grinding along today.

We continue to be, in this year of 2012, prisoners of primal urges and forces often beyond our ken, too easily contradicting the smear of civilized veneer we dab on and re-apply daily.

An e-card somebody made said it pretty well, and in phrasing I cannot now precisely remember. But, it was perfect, insightfully cobbled, saying something like:  One day, we stuff ourselves with food to give thanks for all the stuff that we have, and the very next day, we heave ourselves back into pitched battle to get even more stuff.

(This is the part where we pause, consider the truth of that thought, giggle nervously for a second or two, and then pinwheel back into the fray, panicked we might miss out on the Miss Honeytree Mystery Sock Curler, in purple plastic, with real imitation cubic zirconium peg tweakers, for only $3.98 each.)

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