Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why do Companies make Polticial Statements?

I'm sorry, I don't eat at Chick-fil-a.

My friend said, turning down my offer to buy her lunch a few years ago. What? Did I just hear that right? Yes, my liberal friend was/is boycotting Chick-fil-a because they don't support the implementation of Gay marriage.
It was around this time that I began to notice the growing trend of companies, their political/religious statements, and the ensuing boycotts. And thinking about what it all means.

Today, I've come to a few realizations, and an overwhelming compulsion to spew my knowledge all over the internet. Enjoy.
I wish. (Source)
A few weeks later after aforementioned friend declined Chick-fil-a outing,  I walked into my Sunday school class wearing my favorite hipster denim dress. Complete with a side of extra large Starbucks coffee to help me stay awake! (It must be known, at this time, I worked third shift. Church didn't happen without coffee). Annnd yes, the first thing I heard was:

...You have a Starbucks? I can't believe you support that organization...

Apparently since I was a christian, drinking Starbucks was equivalent to walking into Sunday school with my rainbow hat and live-in life partner in tow. Huh?

There are hundreds of examples beyond the two I've outlined here. Like, Square, coming out against gun rights. And Disney, pro-gay. Blah, blah. You get the idea.

But lately I've been asking myself: What is wrong with this picture? Why do I feel this is not the way we should be reacting to these kinds of statements? My hackles and my indignation rises with each "I don't--because ". After stewing over this, I came up with a few introspective questions:

First, why do we feel as a society like every place we shop, every place we eat at, should somehow agree with our every political whim? Are we that conceited? I imagine in some third world country, a regular Joe does not usually contemplate where his shirt came from or what the moral stipulations are of the company who donated relief aid for his starving kids. When did we stop being grateful for what companies provide for us (objects for a comfortable life, yada yada) and start being selective and, in my opinion narcissistic, about what we buy?

That should be an Onion article: Starving Man from Rural Africa Refuses to Eat American Beef because of Pro-Gay policy. Or: Barefoot women refuses shoes made by Pro-gun activists. I could go on. I won't.

Because--shouldn't our first and really, only prerogative be: is this item/food what I require to fix my problem? When did we add to that: but what does this item say about me? what will people think if they see me using this item? Is there any political or social or religious affiliations attached to this item that I personally do not believe in? Oh, I already have four of these items, but this one is red. I need a red one.

We live in such luxury. I mean, some of those questions are good to ask. But should we let them rule our entire lives, let them color how we see others and place ourselves on shining pedestals because of how we see them? Uh, no. If you don't want to eat somewhere, then don't eat there. And please don't lecture me about how great a person you are for abstaining from said restaurant. I don't care.

This brings me to my next set of questions: Does eating something really have anything to say about what you believe? Do labels really mean that much to us? And if so, should they?

All dry humor aside, I've noticed that people who boycott Disney for their pro-gay statements still shop at Forever 21, where the use of Chinese factories and child labor abounds.

Some of you will tell me that those people in China need to eat too, right? That they also need to provide for their families. You are correct. But I wish there was a better way for them to sustain life than working all day in a factory making clothes. This does not in any way demean the sense of pride I'm sure they have that they are doing all they can. Actually, they are probably working to much to feel any pride. Pride seems to be an American thing.

So, I'll just sit here and think about the fact that I shouldn't buy their clothes because of the ethical statements behind them. I'm clearly missing the big picture.
There is so many things wrong with this, I don't even...
Honestly, I don't think any company should make political statements. I mean, your a company, right? Are you trying to turn off people from buying your product by picking a side on an already controversial issue? If you are thinking that those who lie on the affirmation side of your topic will began to shop more there, then you are just being greedy--another vice that most every company shares, sadly. Or you are using religion to try and bully someone into believing in a topic (like that above cup. Jesus and boycotting china have nothing to do with each other...but sadly companies will play into people's religion or sexual orientation just to sell things.)

I'm not trying to say that individuals inside companies can't make political statements. I just don't think companies should. Its not the purpose of a company, and it will always alienate somebody. And that sounds bad for the company, yeah? Yeah.

You know why I don't eat/drink Starbucks anymore? Its because they don't have tea lattes. All I drink now are tea lattes, and well, Starbucks, you don't have any. I also don't eat at Chick-fil-a because I don't eat fast food. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with politics or religion--but with my health and what I see as healthy/non-healthy.

So, for me, I just boycott boycotting. And inwardly cringe whenever I hear a fellow citizen of mine sprouting boycott nonsense.

But, what do you think?