Best Buy, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Walmart recently announced plans to move the starting time of Black Friday sales from Friday to Thursday. That’s right, in order to sell more goods, these companies are starting their sales on Thursday and interrupting the Thanksgiving celebrations of their employees, vendors and literally millions of shoppers who depend on lower prices in these hard economic times.
These companies’ managements reportedly wrestled with this decision, but they all eventually decided to put profit before principle. Hard to blame them, nowadays. We are becoming a society in which the ends justify the means. In order to hold his power, our president campaigns and refuses to lead us and the world out of the worst economic downturn in memory. In order to save a campaign, a candidate conveniently forgets his sordid past and calls cash settlements nothing but allegations. In order to have a winning football team, one college covers up horrific abuse and abandons the most vulnerable to weep alone in the shadows. Today we are at risk of gaining the whole world but, in so doing, losing our national soul.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates what is good in our society, not what profits us. Thanksgiving is a tradition stretching back to our first settlement. It is the unbounded rejoicing of a people who give thanks for a land, for a just form of government and for freedom. It is a holiday where people of many tongues, colors and races proudly give thanks together as Americans for what they have been given. It is a time to give thanks, not a time to get things.
By allowing our Thanksgiving to become another day of mere commerce, we make the day into Thanksgetting. We dishonor previous Thanksgivings and implicitly dishonor those who have sacrificed for us in the past. And we ignore the source of our ability and success. We lose a piece of our national soul that cannot be regained or restored.
Thanksgiving has a high moral purpose like few of our other national days. Thanksgiving is a foundational part of our moral legitimacy in a very immoral world desperate for our leadership.
We must retain Thanksgiving, but we cannot count upon our leaders or businessmen to insure it. As it has been from the beginning, Thanksgiving is an individual act manifested across a community through similar acts. It is incumbent upon us to act independently and yet together to maintain our moral legitimacy, our national honor and our national soul.
Join me in writing to those companies that have moved against Thanksgiving. Implore their managements to change their strategies. If nothing else, deprive them of your dollars if they do not listen. Most importantly, save time on that day to quietly reflect on all that is good. Reflect how each of us may make our lives brighter, and by so doing, brighten the lives of others around us and the greater world. Despite our dire economy and war-torn circumstances, this one day is a time to reflect, to restore ourselves and to give thanks for our blessings as we have them.
Myers Mermel is a Manhattan real estate owner/investor and was a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in New York in 2010.