An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

If we are not loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength and with all our minds and loving neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27), then it’s very likely that we too are a part of a crowd that has our priorities all out of line during this Advent season.

It’s hard to imagine being so hungry that people would step over crying, screaming children to get enough food for a single meal. I guess it’s a human example of survival of the fittest. Yet it’s also an example of how people’s stomachs overruled their hearts.

I realize I must be careful here. I have no idea what it’s like to be on the brink of starvation. I would hope it wouldn’t reduce me to becoming a savage or guilty of having the blood of children on the soles of my shoes or the guilt of their deaths weighing on my soul after I’d satisfied my hunger pains.

While I’ll tread lightly in judging those in Kanyaruchinya, I cannot hold back in speaking of the trampling death of Jdimytai Damour in a Mineola, N.Y., Wal-Mart.

Mr. Damour was no small man. He tipped the scales at 270 pounds and was 6 feet 5 inches tall. That’s a lot of man! How can you not go around a man that size who is lying on the floor? A crowd of 2,000 broke down the electronic doors and steamrolled the man. An autopsy confirmed that the 34-year-old died of asphyxiation related to his trampling.

It’s hard to imagine people being so full of their selfish desire to acquire more stuff that they would trample a man. Most of the people who went through the checkout line in Wal-Mart that day likely spent less than $400. For $400 many of them helped stomp a man to death. They might as well have had rocks in their hands and stoned the man to death. What was his crime? He was in their way. He was between them and their house of toys. It’s an example of how people’s greed and desire for the material things of this world overruled their hearts.

It draws quite a contrast between areas of Africa and America, between the Congo and Mineola, N.Y. While I think of the savagery of these two groups, how one group’s stomachs and another group’s greed led them to become group criminals, I must ask myself, “When does my selfishness lead to my leaving others behind—people who are wounded, battered and bleeding?”

Perhaps someone else struck the initial blow. Perhaps I saw the need but refused to get involved. Getting involved, after all, would be costly. Like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, both perhaps with busy schedules and important religious functions to perform, I sometimes move on my way, leaving the wounded for others to care for, or maybe no one at all. Dare I confess that I sometimes am the one who steps on others to get what I want?

Wal-Mart tells us to come shop at their stores so we can save money and live better. Jesus tells us if we want to live better we need to look to see where our treasure is because there we will find our hearts. If we are not loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength and with all our minds and loving neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27), then it’s very likely that we too are a part of a crowd that has our priorities all out of line during this Advent season.

Michael Helms is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Moultrie, Ga. A version of this column first appeared in The Moultrie Observer.

Share This