The hullabaloo has me questioning what exactly gave Chick-fil-A the means to become enveloped in this gigantic, tenuous bubble of media frenzy and Facebook outrage when it’s a relatively small incident in the greater corporate schema, one in which anyone with great wealth can endorse, support, hate or decry any hot-button humanity issue, from same-sex marriage to abortion to the death penalty, within legal means — exactly what Dan Cathy has done with his empire.
Do you politicize your coffee? Maybe, if you take the time and effort to find out if it’s fair trade. How about your running shoes? Are you sure they weren’t made by a Cambodian child cramped over some machine in a smoggy factory? Do you care? The burger you’re eating — could that cow have been bludgeoned, injected with so many hormones it couldn’t stand? Perhaps.
Don’t get me wrong; being a conscious consumer is an admirable effort — one I strive for myself and often struggle with, as I find myself lost in a sea of information and a tight budget.
We, as humans, live in a capitalist society dominated by a perpetual quest for wealth, power and authority, and that authority undoubtedly yields corruption, poor taste and, sometimes, bad people who do bad things. As members of the proletariat inherently reliant on a well-oiled bureaucracy of corporations, this is a gamble we take, albeit perhaps against our own will.
And it’s a gamble we must be more aware of.
If Cathy hadn’t given that interview, he’d still be unabashedly donating money to that hate group, and you might still be eating that chicken sandwich. This clamor has reminded me, more than ever, how much toil it takes to be a conscientious consumer.
Who has the time, energy, gusto and skill to research the spendings and moral fortitude of the top decision-makers at every single company our purchases support? The opaqueness and complexity of a corporation’s intent and morals, at its core, is one that’s exhausting to try to navigate.
Perhaps this frenzy marks a greater sense of awareness of that battle; tell us, the consumer, what you believe and what our money supports and we will react.
Sometimes even that becomes skewed; TOMS shoes, a brand made successful by its mission to support needy children with free shoes, sounds like a translucent, no-nonsense business standard worthy of admiration and support. Even they’ve come under fire for a marketing platform that supposedly “dehumanizes” the poor, providing them with handouts when they should be focusing on achieving self-sufficiency.
I don’t know who to trust. Discernment is damn hard.
This quest to become a perfectly ethical consumer is one that’s probably in vain. But it’s a battle we have to fight, even if we know we’re going to lose.
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