A couple weeks ago I read an interesting article that you may have seen, too. The story I read was about a response that was written in regards to a story that someone else had written. Confused yet? Let me explain. On June 19, 2014, Timothy Egan, a correspondent for the New York Times, wrote an article entitled “The Corporate Daddy: WalMart, Starbucks, and the Fight Against Inequality.” If you didn’t see this article, it may not surprise you to learn that the article was criticizing WalMart’s treatment of its employees. (This isn’t exactly new “news”, but the article wasn’t professing to be reporting “new news” but rather simply offering a commentary)
Then, WalMart wrote a response, which got some attention. Not necessarily for what was written in their response but rather for the clever way in which it was written. Instead of a standard “counter-article”, the response took on the role of “editor” of the NY Times article, suggesting the article was simply a “first draft” sent to WalMart for “proof-reading” of the author’s “facts”, and then WalMart used red pen “notations” in the margins to “correct” some of Mr. Egan’s statements.
So, the article I first stumbled upon was not the NY Times article nor the WalMart response but rather an article commending WalMart for its clever way of approaching an otherwise potentially controversial piece.
Of course, when I read the piece that was praising WalMart’s response, I had to find the original NY Times article, and also WalMart’s response and read them both. And then I stumbled on yet another article which called into question the clever response by WalMart, and once again, suggested the same things as the NY Times article.
So, in all I read four articles about WalMart – two of which were critical of WalMart, two of which were sympathetic to it.
As I read all of these articles, I was struck by one underlying thought that has occurred to me at various times when I have heard WalMart being criticized for its “huge-ness”. And, I don’t say this with any sort of support of the behemoth, nor do I say this as an attempt to ridicule any of WalMart’s critics. But, the fact cannot be disputed that there is one reason above all others that WalMart is so huge and continues to be a retail giant and a force to be reckoned with in the business world and that is that many people, myself included, shop there… and shop there OFTEN.
Sure, some of WalMart’s critics put their money where there mouths are and shop smaller stores for what most of us consider to be basic durable goods. But, if the majority of us didn’t do business at WalMart, there would be, well, no business.
My point? I’m not pro-WalMart or anti-WalMart. I’m simply suggesting that before we take issue with something, we need to examine our part in the grand scheme of things. Ask questions when you read articles, about anything. Don’t take simple statements at face value because pretty much nothing in the world is that simple.
Wherever you choose to shop, just remember, those workers aren’t just workers, they are people. Maybe our only role to play is to simply treat them with dignity and be glad they are there, helping provide us with a certain standard of living. And then, at the same time, we can give our own personal practices the once-over in our own minds.
Thanks for reading!