Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thoughts of Social Change

Somehow, I really don't know how it happened, but somehow my e-mail address got added to the Wake Up Walmart campaign e-mail list. This happened about a year and a half ago. Wake Up Walmart is a lobbyist group that campaigns to reform Walmart's evil business practices. Now I don't really like walmart, but it has nothing to do with their business practices. It has everything to do with the types of clothing they sell.

The e-mails I get from Wake Up Walmart are pretty funny. They claim that Walmart is to blame for the toy recalls from China. They claim that is our patriotic duty to get our legislature to control walmart. Here are some of their subject lines:
"Tell Walmart: Apologize Now!"
"Walmart & Crime - A shocking new report!"
"Walmart and George Bush"
"Big Brother"

Now, I agree if everything that they claim Walmart did was true, something would need to change. But I have a hard time with their change techniques. They ask people to do a lot of things, but I have yet to get an e-mail from them asking me to stop shopping at Walmart.

Apparently asking people to avoid the over lit, crowded, noisy store is too much. Corporations will rapidly change when they see their sales drop. Executives will yell and people will scramble if stuff sits on shelves. I think consumers forget that they have much more power than the power of a vote. They have the power of the dollar.

Here's why I think we aren't asked to boycott walmart. I think because when it all comes down to it, people are selfish. I've seen this in so many other campaigns. People, in general, are willing to stand behind a cause as long as it costs them very little. Yeah, better wages sounds like a great thing for that cashier, but I shouldn't pay for it - some faceless corporation should. Yes, child labor shouldn't be used, but I'm not going to look into that before I purchase something. I agree that we should strive to be a "greener" society, but please don't deprive me of my Ziploc bags.

As Americans our consumerism has the potential to fund many human rights violations around the world. We don't just hold the power of the dollar, but we hold the responsibility that comes with it. I believe that real change won't happen unless people are willing to pay more for things, live with less and make personal changes to social problems. Until then, it's just useless rhetoric.

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