If you were reading awhile back, you know that I love Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey and that I also struggle supporting that particular ice cream establishment due to our differing political views. When I mentioned it just a few months ago I hadn't found the impetus to make a definite turn away from my favorite frozen delicacy. Today, however, I've taking my stand.
With Ben and Jerry's today throwing their corporate support behind the Occupy Movement, I will no longer support them even to indulge my strongest cravings. Not because there isn't good to be done buried somewhere deep in the mess that is the Occupy Movement. And not because I disagree with their long-standing efforts to support employees and consumers over corporate interests. The reason I can no longer sneak my Chunky Monkey has much more to do with their decision to fuel a completely ineffective and direction-less movement.
Over the past few months I've found myself in several different states and seeing fairly up close the Occupy Movements in several those areas. I've listened intently to what the Occupiers in my own neck of the woods are saying, and there's not much coherence there. I know they must believe strongly in what they're fighting for-why else would they have stretched their protests into the bitter cold of winter? But no one else is believing them because their is no concise point for us to be believing.
Let me share my view of the Occupy movement based on what has happened here in Salt Lake City...
Pioneer Park for years was a haven for homeless people and drug dealers. It was a BIG problem; a historic and significant area of the city and nobody was able to enjoy it. Finally the city stepped in to clean up the park and the problem. Over the past few years they have made tremendous strides in cracking down on crime and finding shelter options for those in need. Families are coming back to the park. The farmer's market sets up there once again and a new summer concert series packs a crowd every week.
So what is the logical next step for a park with such a troubled past? I promise you it's not a group of unorganized squatters pitching tents and piling up trash in the walkways. It's not a group of people who apparently also have no homes because they never go there and also maybe can't read because they are completely oblivious to the printed park curfew signs. The city bent over backwards, set aside their own city tenets, to enable a peaceable protest. The SLC Occupiers recognized that. Then a man in a tent died. The city had to put their foot down. And the occupiers lawyered up to sue on the grounds that the city violated their own laws by letting the protesters stay.
What are the SLC Occupiers fighting for? I have no idea. On Black Friday they were calling for a boycott of shopping at Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart undercuts prices and products that are American-made. Today, they're "riding our bikes very slowly" in front of trucks leaving the Wal-Mart distribution centers to show solidarity for the Wal-Mart workers who "deserve a living wage" and should unionize. Are you kidding me? Riding your bikes very slowly in front of a moving 18-wheeler? Great cause. Great movement.
If I think about it, I suppose the Occupiers are out there fighting for me. Right? Middle-class family struggling to keep health insurance, a bit afraid of the rate at which the price of food is rising, and wondering what comes next. But you know what? My husband and I won't be joining you. No. We're working. We're supporting our family. We're making ends meet the best way we can and looking for opportunities to intelligently make our situation better. Know what else? We're bathing! (Well, okay, except for the no shampoo thing...)
What does all this have to do with ice cream? Absolutely nothing. Except that Ben & Jerry's has made it their new mission to stick their noses into the mess. If, in the long run, their clout and own corporate dollars are successful in finally bringing a point to the Occupy movement, hurray for them. Let them be a catalyst for something good (it'd definitely be better than touring with a burning effigy of the President). For now, though, I am one of little faith. I'll continue to grant them their creative tastiness, but will no longer be indulging...in their ice cream or in their involvement with the Occupy movement.