Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Bad News and Boycotts (A wee bit of rant)

What a week! Can you imagine someone coming back from a week retreat or a technology fast saying to you on Friday evening, "Hey whats going on these days?" Gee! Where do I start? Bombing in Boston, explosion in West, Texas, floods in Chicago, tornadoes, shootout with police in Boston, lockdown in Boston, Hospitals filling up in Waco and Austin, Capture of suspected terrorist in Boston...  not much else, Whats up with you?
Then last night Boston partied like they beat the Yankees for the pennant. But its not closure for a lot of people. There are still hurting people in hospitals and recovery, there are still grieving people, there are still lives cut short, and divisive
debates in our country, and these folks need our prayers and help. Our leaders need our prayers and input. All in all it's been a tough week in many ways.
So today, I get up at a leisurely pace, take the pills for the things I've been going through lately, have a cup of yoghurt, and head out to finish up my sermon for Sunday. So I go to Starbucks, get a parking spot in front of the door, get my laptop and some commentaries out of my trunk, come into the store, set all my stuff down on the table I was hoping was free and I hear my name. I turn around and the barista is walking toward me  saying, "Here you go Clark, didn't want you to have to wait, your Americano."
And people tell me I should boycott this place!
I know, I know, its not all about me. (Thank you Rick Warren for putting that on so many people's lips.) But this Barista, whose name I can't recall, is not the CEO of Starbucks. He's just a guy that needs a job and he does it well and tries hard. He didn't decide to support gay marriage, he just shows up and does what he's supposed to do. He's not setting policy, nor any of his co-workers, he's just selling coffee. And I'm building a relationship with them. And I don't come in here as often as I used to and for that I feel a twinge of guilt. But the fact that I come here at all makes me feel a twinge of guilt. Maybe since I'm white and a tiny bit Jewish I'm SUPPOSED to feel guilt all the time, but to my mind, this is silly.
Years ago I participated in the boycott of 7-11 to get them to stop selling porn as other major chains had done. I didn't buy their gas or their coffee or their Big Gulps (and that was hard). One day the magazines were gone. I was glad. I was really proud of the widespread effort that helped achieve that.
But have you seen the list of things we are "Supposed" to be boycotting now? It goes on and on and on. Especially when you considere how many products are in someway connected to Monsanto and everybody knows how bad they are. And Wal-Mart! I know people that can't live without Wal-Mart. I might avoid it but I get good pharmacy prices there.And Disney! Oh wait, is that one lifted?
Here's the thing. I'm not against boycotting but I don't know how effective this widespread "boycott everybody supporting bad stuff" effort is. Maybe if a few of our various denominational or "Christian right" leaders got together and agreed on a targeted boycott or two we might achieve something. Folks from Dr. Moore the new head of the Southern Baptist ERLC to James Dobson to Rick Warren to R C Sproul - Hey I don't who! - maybe if they picked some key organisations doing the most harm, talked to them, and if they didn't cease and desist we mount a boycott of epic proportions.
Because, after all, it is a free country, we can shop where we please or not shop. But I'm not sure targeting Starbucks, Home Depot, etc. etc. is really going to have an effect on legislation nor the morals of their customers.
So until then, my recommendation is to shop where you please. Build relationships with people. Be Christian and Christ-like. And don't blame the barista or the Wal-Mart greeter, or the nuts and bolts guy at Home Depot for participating in the Great Tribulation.
 And then we can pray for our country, too.

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