You have to believe in people, that’s all we have, is a line at the end of a commercial for a television series. Current times make this belief most difficult. How do we at least view, since many of us don’t read, the constant messaging which seems to say look out for number one. The message on its face has validity but the underlying intent is an appeal to our more basic instinct.
I listened to an episcopal priest the other day discuss what people need to give up to follow what their religion asks. Let me stop now and say this is a post on my blog not a sermon. Oftentimes we think of sacrifice as life changing, giving up costly items, donating money to help others, less flash and cash and being more humble and giving. Much of that is true but unrealistic for many of us to do or to expect. Where is this sermon going was my first thought and was it time for me to leave? Then he headed in a totally unanticipated direction. He began talking about Colin Kaepernick, the football player, who sat rather than stand for the playing of the national anthem. Judging by some of the responses I read or heard he committed a terrible act which was an affront to those who served this country and to the country itself. What he did was not the issue to this priest. Why he did it and the consequences were key. Granted Mr. Kaepernick is a famous, well paid, professional athlete who is also an African-American. What was he sacrificing potentially for this act which he stated was an act of conscience? He was stating that African-Americans don’t rate the same equality and treatment as White Americans. Even the most bigoted individual would have to agree that there is validity to this statement. So what, is anything being done about it? Maybe yes, but how much and who cares? We now know that Mr. Kaeperneck cares and wants both awareness of it and changes to it. What does it take inside a person to act out in this manner. What did he give is up or sacrifice. Granted he could quit today and never have to work a day for the rest of his life. So what, his world of athletics and his reputation can and probably will suffer. In his mind the personal consequences to him and possibly his team are secondary to his basic belief in people. He believes that people can do better and make the necessary changes or why else do it? His sacrifice personally is huge but his need to use the podium he has to speak up is critical and the consequences are what they are.
Today my wife received a clothing magazine from a company from which she had purchased a winter jacket. She mentioned an article in the magazine about global warming and the scientific acknowledgement and the stupidity of those who don’t. In reviewing the magazine and the web site I realized that this company displays enormous corporate responsibility toward protecting the environment and workers in its production process. Granted the clothes are more expensive but one shirt is enough, I don’t need two at a lesser price. How much greater could the corporate reach and profits be if a uncaring or less concerning attitude prevailed. There are people at various levels of society who we can believe in and who act responsibly resulting in some detrimental consequences for themselves and their companies.
The CEO of a major coffee chain advocates for payment of a living wage at a time when others oppose a minor increase in the minimum wage as business wrecking. This no pay increase is then regurgitated over and over by many of our elected hypocrites in the name of job creation. Really, who buys that BS? Henry Ford understood years ago that to sell your product workers need to be paid enough to buy your product. Many of our current corporate executive types today believe people should only earn a minimum wage so that their corporate profits can be maximized. It also creates workers who accept corporate irresponsibility for fear of job loss.
Those people who do sacrifice and act responsibly don’t give up their total lifestyles and become paupers in the name of doing good. None of up are willing to nor expected to do that. We are expected to care about our planet and the people and all life forms that inhabit it. We may not have a million dollars to educate the world or end hunger. The sacrifices we make may be on a much lesser scale but part of our daily lives. We need to recognize that Mr. Kaepernick is right and has raised a legitimate concern. The products we purchase should at least involve an effort on our part to ensure that the products aren’t produced at near slave labor rates and conditions. The wages and conditions we impose on our workers need to be fair. We need to act responsibly in our daily lives from how we treat our planet to who we vote for to ensure the well-being of the current and future inhabitants of this land.
If we only have people to believe in then it is time for people to show that we deserve to be trusted and that belief is well founded. Sacrifice isn’t just giving something up. It is also acting responsibly. November 8th would be a good day to act responsibly.