Anything for a Buck II

As a follow-up to my blog piece from yesterday, I was aware that as I wrote it and hit “publish” something about it just didn’t sit right.

And the part that didn’t sit right hit me during yoga this morning. (Yes…I know…I really shouldn’t be thinking during yoga, but on occasion thoughts like this just hit me upside the head, whether I like it or not.)

It’s pretty easy for me to sit outside the walls, over here in my happy world, and lay claim to what is right and wrong, but the truth is…the buyer, the clerk, the creator of the flasks I referenced yesterday probably don’t feel like they have any option but to conform to the culture they feel obliged to please…that culture being us.

If the clerk refused to put the display out on the floor, she/he will more than likely be fired. The buyer may feel a kind of informal sense of responsibility to purchase items such as this or she/he will lose his/her job. If they don’t throw these items out on the floor for the general population to purchase, the general population will go somewhere else to purchase these items. Shock value sells and we, meaning the consumer, buy the stuff.

It’s all very confusing. The circle of it seems to just go round and round without ever stopping.

I’m still brought back around though to the notion that we don’t know each other anymore. I was “doing” the very same thing to the buyer I spoke of, in my blog piece yesterday, that I claimed she did…judging her based only on information that I pulled together through assumptions that she/he was indeed in it only for the buck. I wonder might happen if instead of asking her to sit down with her consumer, I asked to sit down with her…exploring what her work is like…wondering who the real person is that makes these decisions…how many kids she is supporting. Is she single? Married? Pressures? Worried? It’s so easy to want to blame, to name, to suggest that someone here is wrong, but the truth is, we are all in this together. Where do we draw the line and who draws it?

So…I’m wondering…what would happen if I sat down to learn HER story…hear what it feels like day in and day out, to go into work and maybe know at her core that the “stuff” she buys and then distributes is demeaning and belittling the customer who buys it…but feeling helpless or afraid to speak up for fear of losing her job, not feeling supported to make change from within the corporation where she works.

So…if you are still here and even a little bit interested in all of this (you must be if you made it this far) I’m curious…and I ask you with a real and genuine desire to hear back from you…what do you think about what I’ve shared here? Are their solutions? Is there anything to actually solve? Is there even a problem? What is the problem? Use the comment section and let’s talk about this. Because my brain is on overdrive and yoga isn’t helping! 🙂

3 thoughts on “Anything for a Buck II

  1. Molly,

    I appreciate your insightful and reflective posts on this subject. Like you, I struggle to hold back judgement when I encounter people/products/situations that offend or violate my own values and it is all too easy for us to make assumptions based on our own personal narrative(s). Still, like you, I am learning the value of stepping back from the situation so that I can reflect and thoughtfully act (if necessary) instead of simply reacting.

    You correctly point out that it’s impossible to know HER story without engagement. Does she find the product objectionable? If not, why? Is it because of ignorance, apathy or endorsement? If she does object, what are the circumstances that surround her decision to be a part of this, whether as designer, buyer, clerk or cashier? After all, not everyone can afford to stand on principle and not everyone knows how.

    So what can we do?

    We can start by listening. We can meet others where they are, first seeking understanding and clarity. We can educate ourselves so that we can become stronger educators and advocates ourselves. We can stand up, speak up and speak out, for though we cannot change a system alone, we can allow our voice to be heard. We can walk our talk, and in doing so, model a better approach for others.

    Thanks for sharing with us and opening this important dialogue to others.


  2. Molly, the things you’ve observed, shared and questioned here are really important. Yes, I think there is a problem, and though it does appear to be a Gordian knot, I think… no, I know… there are solutions. They seem hard, but they are there.

    So where to even begin? I’ve thought and written a lot about this. Every string I pull leads me to the same conclusion… our society is disintegrated. I don’t mean that metaphorically. I literally mean we are “dis”-integrated, especially among ages. We have allowed, even encouraged, our youngest brothers and sisters to create and live in a culture that is barely tethered to a culture of traditional responsibility, accountability and virtue. This disintegration is manifesting itself in all facets of society, including the marketplace which will surely follow the law of supply and demand.

    Speaking of the “law of supply and demand”… I think it’s worth asking the questions, “Who is demanding dehumanizing beverage holders? Why are they demanding them?” I think I know the answer to these questions, but I’d be interested to hear what others think.

  3. It would be interesting to hear the stories of the clerk, buyer, marketing VP’s, etc. I would hope that they recognize the culture that these products are representing. Sadly, I have my doubts.

    Since you asked, the problem, as I see it, is that a lot of parents have “given up” on parenting and are buying into the culture. Being a parent means saying “no” sometimes, whether it’s not buying age-inappropriate products or setting limits on behavior. Not every parent gets that. They are trying too hard to cater to their child’s every whim.

    Like a lot of issues today, particularly in education, I think the problem and the solution start at home. Give kids a stable, loving environment, and they will flourish. But kids also do well with structure, and sometimes that includes setting limits. They know what to expect and what is expected of them.

    As a mom of two pre-teen daughters, I know I have a long road ahead of me with plenty of these types of challenges (and probably even bigger ones!). Thank you, Molly, for creating the Girls on the Run program. It’s my best tool for bringing the right messages to my girls and counteracting the wrong ones!

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