For a Better World Do Nothing

One of my FW’s (fellow workers) mentioned that the gas station nearest work was selling gas for only $2.88 per. gallon. It’s a shame that we are to the point we think paying under $3.00 a gallon is a bargain. I replied, “I don’t buy Shell gas.” One FW replied, “OK what’s wrong with Shell?” I replied, “I don’t like how they have destroyed Nigeria by aiding the corrupt government that runs the country. I also don’t like that Shell has dug mass graves with their equipment to bury indigenous people who the corrupt government has killed for trying to stop Shell from taking their lands.” Shell also has a horrible environmental record in Nigeria. See boycott info: Shell info

The latest info on turmoil on corruption and war in Nigeria: Vanity Fair

One of my fellow FW’s said, “I don’t care what a company does as long as its product is the cheapest. “I came back with, “Some people go to church on Sunday and pray for a better world when they made decisions all week long that contributed to the injustices and destruction of the world.”

I thought of a few of my present and former FW’s who actually have sent their kids to Christian schools to supposedly get better moral values. Yet the same parents don’t give a good Hannity (my word for shit) what values the companies who make the products they use have as long as they’re cheap. Sounds like a waste of money on that Christian school when the kids come home to parents who don’t care about standing up for a more moral and just world.

I also have a beef with fellow FW’s who pick up their check from Public Education while they put their kids in private schools. This is a hypocrisy George H. Bush brought up when he ran for president. Bush was taking on the NEA union and made fun of how 30% of it members had kids in private schools yet the NEA was fighting against school vouchers. I wasn’t working in Public Education at the time and thought Bush was full of Hannity. I have been ashamed to now learn that Bush may have even been a little light when he said 30%. I am puzzled why my FW’s in Public Education don’t see this hypocrisy as detrimental to their job in Public Education.

I truly believe parents and grandparents all would like to see a better world for their children, grandchildren, and the next generation. The world is fraught with problems pertaining to social justice, sweatshops, racism, misogyny, poverty, the environment, human rights, respect, dignity, etc.

I’m sure most people are overwhelmed in their daily life just trying to earn a living and get by to feel they can spend any time being an activist on even one of these issues. Mother Theresa told us we should “just do what’s in front of you.” Even if people did as little as that, just working on an issue that confronts them everyday, it would make a better world. What if I were to tell you how you could take a role in fighting for all the social justice issues I mentioned above without even lifting a finger? As a matter of fact, not lifting a finger, not moving a muscle, being an armchair activist as it were is exactly what is called for.

It’s not really about doing anything it’s about doing nothing. By that nothing I mean making the companies accountable is about closing your wallets and purses to their anti-human, anti-environmental agendas. The sound they most fear is the silence those wallets and purses make when they don’t open. Nothing in a capitalist society speaks louder than the silent sound of wallets not opening.

I have spoken out in my workplace about the evils of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Both of them don’t pay livable wages, seldom promote women (when they do they pay them less then men), they use Third World sweatshops, use child labor, pollute, are anti-union and get millions in corporate welfare. They are on the wrong side of just about every issue you can imagine.

Because as I’ve said I work in Public Education I brought in some the following info: Giving Wal-Mart style

Folks I work with said, I know Wal-Mart is evil but I have to go to Sam’s Club. It’s as if going to Sam’s is some kind of religious experience. Don’t take my word for how evil Wal-Mart is, take the word of The Methodist Church and 30 religious, labor, consumer, and human rights groups that have urged Wal-Mart to improve the company’s social and environmental performance. The groups organized by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, said it feared the company’s strategic vision to achieve success in the marketplace comes without an ethical standard.

The first and only time I went in a Wal-Mart was over twenty years ago as I accompanied a friend who entered the new store in Hermitage PA. What I saw inside the front door made me turn around and leave and never come back. The terror that drove me from their store was the Wal-Mart greeter. He had been a boss at a grocery store I worked in while attending YSU. He was the vilest, lecherous, evil boss I have ever worked for in my life (and that’s saying a lot). This was a man who actually made fun of and imitated a handicapped employee at the grocery store. Here it was decades later and this boss was now a senior citizen and a greeter at Wal-Mart. I imagine he probably kicks canes out of the hand of elderly women and disconnects the batteries on the scooter buggies while the handicapped ride them in Wal-Mart.

As for Sam’s Club I’m not shopping anywhere that I have to pay an annual membership to. That just sounds plain dumb to me. I tend to buy from small stores in my community and buy things at second hand stores so I believe we do have alternatives to companies that are not good world citizens.

Truly, do those products we buy at soulless corporations give us so much comfort and pleasure that we will pay such a high moral cost for them? When we buy gas at Shell and enter Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs with our children, we are telling our kids we think little of the world they will inherit. In the end, we must ask ourselves: do we want bargains or values?

I hope in the near future to be able to post boycotts and link other ways arm chair activist can make a difference as soon as I figure this whole blog thing out.

Bruce Cockburn: If I had a Rocker Launcher

More Bruce: A Dream Like Mine

Bruce with Lovers in a Dangerous Time; lovers

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