The holidays are supposed to be happy, joyous times. It's the time when we witness the wonder and amazement on children's faces as they pass by a holiday display. It's supposed to be a time when we ponder the possibility of peace on Earth and goodwill towards all, perhaps being more receptive than at any other time of the year to the idea of everyone just getting along.
But this year, there are two things that are draining the holiday spirit and cheer faster than that cup can be refilled.
First, as I'm sure every member of the human race is aware, the U.S. just held their quadrennial Presidential elections. And what a nasty, nasty election it was. As a natural born U.S. citizen, it was one of the nastiest elections I had ever witnessed. Both sides slung so much mud at one another that they alone could have filled the deepest, largest chasm on Earth. The candidate that was projected to have the slimmest of chances of winning (projected by a media and pollsters who, it was discovered, had the greatest of biases for his opponent), actually won. The non-politician, a businessman, beat the career politician, who's resumè is riddled with more scandals and corruption than there are drops of water in all the oceans. I'm sure the ramifications of this election, it's results, and how it came to be will be studied and debated for many years to come.
As if the election wasn't hard enough to endure, the supporters of the losing candidate -- the same people who profess love, peace, tolerance and understanding -- are now not only crying like babies about the results (their candidate was a sure bet, they thought), but are now rioting in the streets, assaulting supporters of the winning candidate, and generally acting like the sorest of sore losers. Basically, their rhetoric of love, peace, tolerance and understanding is being exposed as just that: rhetoric. Their actions betray their support for those idyllic and lofty traits for which they spent so much time preaching. There is little else that can draw out someone's true colors (be it an individual or a group) than the sportsmanship, grace and dignity that they display when losing.
Second, there is the ever-present and incessant greed of retailers for the holiday shopping rush. This year, retailers started putting out holiday merchandise around (or even slightly before) the U.S. Labor Day holiday at the end of August. At least in the U.S., there is an evil, greed-driven abomination called "Black Friday." Supposedly, the retailers' sales on the day after Thanksgiving are a predictor of profits during the holiday shopping season, arguably their busiest time of year. Not to be outdone (and so they don't miss out on their piece of greed pie), online retailers originally came up with their own version, called "Cyber Monday." Now, both brick and mortar retailers and online retailers "participate" in both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Retailers will price some highly desirable items at ridiculously low prices, just to get customers into their stores. It stands to reason that increased traffic equals increased sales. Sometimes, and originally, name brand items were offered. But lately, those name brand items have largely been replaced with no-name products produced in someone's back bedroom in Bangladesh with the cheapest components and materials ever conceived by someone making three cents an hour. Sure, you might get a 52 inch HDTV for $300, but it'll be a proverbial roll of the dice if it's still even functioning six months from now. And don't even think about getting it repaired. If it stops functioning, it becomes $300 of landfill fodder.
If you think anyone who has something to sell is immune, think again. I received the above in an email on ... yep, you guessed it ... Cyber Monday. Even the Linux Foundation was getting in on the act, claiming their piece of the pie. And how can you blame them? At least the $300 spent with the Linux Foundation on Linux certification classes has infinitely more value than the same $300 spent on a no-name 52 inch HDTV that will likely be residing in a landfill inside of a year.
But for many retailers, having one day of mayhem and chaos isn't sufficient. Nope. Many retailers now open their stores on Thanksgiving evening to milk just a little more profit from the masses. Others start their "Black Friday" sales on Wednesday. Not only is their greedy quest despicable and shameful, it can and has turned deadly. In the past, shoppers have been trampled to death in their quest for low priced junk. Neither I or my wife will be found within 1000 feet of a retail store on "Black Friday." If you still don't quite understand why, go to YouTube and enter "2016 black friday" as your search criteria. The videos you find are not atypical. They are the norm.
We hope that you don't succumb to the manipulation of the retailers and mass media. Regardless of your religious affiliation, and regardless if you even believe in religion at all, try to remember the real reason for the winter holidays. Celebrate them safely, if you choose to celebrate them at all. At the end of it all, try to remember that the winter holidays all excel at one thing: bringing all people together in peace and harmony. Just because the retailers have lost the true meaning of the holidays doesn't mean that you have to follow suit.
So, more so than ever, we at The PCLinuxOS Magazine bid you peace, happiness, serenity and prosperity. Happy Holidays!