I wouldn’t normally stop to talk about my weekend nonsense, but this past weekend I got to spend some time with my cousins from FL and one of their friends, Osama. Sorry, no, the other Osama wasn’t available for lunch at PF Changs, but my brother-in-law’s BF Osama was. My family is pretty liberal in our political views. I find that most Muslims, like any group, run the gamut from one end to the other. Osama is from Saudi and tends to the more conservative side of things. We were discussing my sister’s ban on Chik-fil-a and how we don’t shop there because of their using money to preach hate (we can argue about this, but this isn’t the issue in the discussion at all). Being that most of my family is liberal, I was very surprised to hear Osama tell us that corporations are free of fault in these scenarios.
Bear with me as I try to summarise his views. Basically, he said that corporations were created by their consumers, that whatever ills they commit, it is not their responsibility to act a certain way. If they do act in a way you don’t like, then stop shopping there and be done with it. There is no need to make your voice known because corporations don’t care.
While I wanted to vehemently argue with him, and I did for a bit, I did soon realise we wouldn’t ever see eye-to-eye on this. He works in a corporation, he knows what he is talking about with respect to his corporate culture. In some ways it was quite the evolutionary discussion because I stopped pushing my point, knowing that we could both see things our own way and both still be right. Perception is subjective, after all.
To his point, do we honestly think that corporations care what we, the consumer think? I am reading a book on existentialism (yeah, I am, want to fight about it?) and a famous line with that group is that “God is dead.” Now that I’ve read through the Sartre essay, I realise that what he is saying isn’t so much that God is dead, but that our actions should not be hinged upon what we think God thinks about it. I mean, whether there is or isn’t a God should not affect whether or not you are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Not to mention our definition of good and bad might be vastly different.
Osama isn’t wrong, even though I hate to admit it. I don’t think Chik-fil-a cares that I don’t shop there. I am positive Abercrombie and Fitch could care less that I don’t shop there. Ultimately, it is my buying power and not my voice that makes the difference. At the same time, as Osama pointed out, will one consumer make any difference at all? Again, I’d sadly argue no, but at least I can sleep maybe a little better at night knowing that I’m doing something, however small or insignificant to support or protest massive corporations.