Before you christen India's problems as so very different from our own, consider this recent run of similarity. In 2004, twenty-one women were killed in the northern Indian city of Lucknow after the promise of free saris set off a stampede. The lure of discounted stylish wraps had 10,000 people lined up in advance and turned the women into animals. While in the States on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, anxious shoppers breached the doors of a Wal-Mart and their mad dash killed a 34-year-old male employee. The Black Friday stampede on Long Island was fueled by the promise of consumer electronic bargains. What wouldn't you do for flat screen plasma?
Chanting "push the doors in," the crowd of 2000 pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening. Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers. It didn't work. The mob barreled in and bum-rushed. When the Christmastime madness ended, Jdimytai Damour was dead and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.
Lest we forget the murderous tragedy of Bombay, it should be noted that much of India's spiritual life is so dedicated to the possibility of reincarnation they refrain from killing even bugs. Jainism is one of the worlds oldest and most influential religions while Long Islanders are resolutely dedicated to the worship of affluence. Sadly, in both cases the crushing desire for material goods will forevermore be associated with the trampling of human life. I guess we should thank Lakshmi that among the advertised specials there were no discounted saris.
Items on sale at the Wal-Mart store included a $798 Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.
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