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Shopping and sacrifice

[ by Charles Cameron — values ]


Sacrifice was high among the unifying ideals that many Americans hoped would emerge from the rubble of ground zero, where so many Good Samaritans had practiced it. But the president scuttled the notion on the first weekend after the attack, telling Americans that it was his “hope” that “they make no sacrifice whatsoever” beyond, perhaps, tolerating enhanced airline security. Few leaders in either party contradicted him. Bush would soon implore us to “get down to Disney World in Florida” and would even lend his image to a travel-industry ad promoting tourism. Our marching orders were to go shopping.

I’ve drawn this partial paragraph from Frank Rich‘s New York piece of August 27th, The 9/11 decade is now over. The terrorists lost. But who won? – it really caught my attention.

If you shake it down in the mind like someone panning for gold to get rid of the lightweight details, the heavier material that remains for you to sort through will, I think, consist of two words: “sacrifice” as representing one order of values, gleaming in contrast with the darker “shopping” representing another.

Yesterday I made a post about words and culture, this one is about culture and sacrifice… what comes next will be the series on ritual and ceremonial…

6 Responses to “Shopping and sacrifice”

  1. Bryan Alexander Says:

    Good opposition, Charles..
    Do you have a copy of that "America isn’t at war, America is at the mall" image?
    Different question: when does shopping as we understand it begin?

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Bryan:

    Marine Civil Affairs office, Ramadi, Iraq, January 2007, Getty Images photo by John Moore.
  3. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    When I watched the Norwegian response to this summer’s killings, I kept thinking about that shopping thing and what a vapid and petty response it was in comparison to the Norwegian "Do not be afraid" and "We will rebuild."

  4. seydlitz89 Says:


    Agree.  Vapid.  Explains a lot. 

    That, and that simply the Norwegians weren’t afraid, wouldn’t allow themselves to be afraid.  Makes all the difference; especially as we approach our 10th. 

  5. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Speaking of fear; the media spends an inordinate amount of time trying to scare the living daylights out of us…never mind terror—-coffee, salt, red meat, tobacco, the weather/global warming, asteroids, alien invasions (reported seriously this week)…it seems the modus operandi is to use vehicles that induce fear—and sadly we’re becoming more and more susceptible.

  6. morgan Says:

    It’s a media game to get your attention. First they try to scare you and induce a sense of panic. Then they will come along and give you their advice for coping with their induced fear and panic. A clever, or desparte, move on their part to try and preserve their relevance in the cyber age.

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