After Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush told us to go shopping.
Seven years later, Lehman Brothers went under.
In the aftermath, our panicked leaders prophesied doomsday if we didn't immediately go shopping to save America from recession.
And so we went shopping! We so went shopping, in rumbling herdlike elephant masses, we killed a guy who didn't get out of the way fast enough. It's a tragic incident, but by no means meaningless. Shopping is a religion, and some religions demand sacrifices.
The Wal-Mart employee died for us on Black Friday, but have we stopped to think what his sacrifice means? Not at all: We're stampeding right on through to the other side of Christmas. We aren't just shopping: We are saving America.
There were some voices that said on TV that maybe we should start saving instead of shopping. We heard those voices, too, especially when gas was $4, but we seem to have quickly forgotten them. Save what?
The business of America is business. And for you and me, Mr. and Mrs. Citizen Average, that means shopping.
I'm not going to make anything out of the fact that the killer mob stormed Wal-Mart, not Neiman Marcus, because the tragedy could have happened anywhere. Shopping mobs are unstoppable regardless of whether they are after diamond-encrusted slippers or Chinese lawn ornaments. The urge is the same: Get to it before they quit running the sale ads and America goes down.
And now that we are officially in a recession and too tired from shopping to figure anything out, they are making us feel guilty of murder, which we may well be. But we were just following orders.