On Chic-fil-A and Starbucks: 5 Questions for Re-evaluating our Relationships with Business and Social Views

Chic-fil-A is making waves. Not for any hateful comment, but for admitting that it supports traditional marriage.

Starbucks, on the other hand, has come out boldly in support of gay marriage. And admittedly, Starbucks has received a reaction too, though not as vehemently or as public.

Now, I do have something to say about gay marriage—hardly shocking for a blog inspired by the Catholic faith, but first let’s address our relationship with businesses and social issues.

1)      Why gay marriage?

Why is this question enticing so many companies to take a stand one way or the other? Why haven’t companies come out opposing human trafficking and dedicating money to stop that? Or why isn’t abortion the focal point? And I really mean this question. If we’re looking at the gay marriage question as indicative of a culture war and how the business views things broadly, why isn’t the issue abortion? It’s arguably just as controversial, divisive and cultural. I really am curious to the answer to this. (Also, no one seems to give Chic-Fil-A a hard time for being closed on Sundays, though few people observe the Sabbath themselves).

2)      Is it the proper role of businesses to take positions on social issues?

Maybe. Maybe not. It does make sense for entrepreneurs to keep tabs on issues affecting their product. For instance, Starbucks sells coffee. It makes good business sense for them to trade ethically with coffee growers and promote this issue. Or Chic-fil-A, it makes sense for them to be concerned about the treatment of animals, particularly those that are in their product—chickens.

But should corporate social issue advocacy extend beyond this? I don’t think so. I understand that business owners are individuals who have the right to support or oppose causes. They can do that as private citizens just like the rest of us. To me, it seems unnecessary to politicize purchasing by aligning brands with social causes unrelated to their product or service. Continue reading

Explaining the Batman Massacre: It’s not “violence in the media”

[Note: I apologize for the long gap in posts. It’s been a hectic month and I’ll be striving to avoid such sizable gaps from now on.]

I want to say that I think the new Batman movie was really good.

However, I’ve noticed a lot of reviews and comments slamming the “gratuitous violence” of the film. And I think that the focus is hyper-sensitive about that because of the Colorado massacre, which—don’t get me wrong—was horrible, nonsensical and tragic.

However, is violence in media really the cause? I don’t think so. [The shooting in Batman isn’t really any worse than other movies.] I don’t think there would be fewer of these terrible shootings if the only thing on TV was My-Little-Pony and classical music. We so often want to have something to blame, something that explains these horrible occurrences, but there isn’t. The disappointing answer is the evil is always senseless and unjustifiable. It always violates the Natural Law, which is how the reasonable human being understands he is supposed to act in order to live well.

Human beings have free will, and we choose what we do regardless of the temptations and influences that effect our environment.

Obviously, we want to make art (including film) that communicates meaning and builds up society. But that doesn’t mean we should stay away from difficult topics all the time. War is real. Evil is real. Good is real too. And good must stand against evil.

It’s not about gun control either. This young man had no criminal history or indication of violence. Access to guns is just another red herring. The real problem is that someone chose to do a horrible thing and that no precautions can prevent all such acts.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we throw guns in the street for anyone to pick up or that we don’t pay attention to messages in our art, but we have to remember that we can’t prevent people from making bad decisions simply through laws and regulations.

The only way that we can do that is to encourage and nourish well-developed consciences that endow us with senses of right and wrong. We can show love to our fellow human beings so that people don’t feel abandoned and hopeless if something goes wrong in their lives. That is the best we can do. And it won’t fix everything because we still live in a fallen world filled with fallen humanity. But it would help.