Friday, April 8, 2011

Liberalism: A Full Time Job

Sorry I haven't been writing. But I've been too busy being liberal to do too much of everything else.

At first, I thought liberalism was going to be so liberating (these words have the same route, even, as you can see). But now, like any other subtle but attractive cult, it is taking over my life. And I just don't have time for anything else. Because being liberal is a full time job.

A few weeks ago, I went to the store in order to buy a bar of soap*. I went to Whole Foods, of course, as that is where I usually shop, it being the closest and "best"** grocery store in the liberal town in which I live. So I went to the soap aisle and there tried to apply the liberal lessons imparted to me by such helpful friends as Michael Moore, Al Gore, and Jesus. Lesson such as:
  • A liberal person must help the environment. 
  • Oil is bad.
  • Chemicals are even worse.
  • Packaging, which is likely plastic and made from oil, is THE WORST. 
So, I surveyed the soap options and noticed (thankfully!) that here in liberal world, there were plenty of products that satisfy my parameters. They were labeled with feel-good words and phrases such as "All Natural," "Biodegradable," "Not tested on animals," "No Parabens***," "No artificial color or preservatives," and "Earth Friendly"****.  All of them were packaged in some sort of biodegradable, bamboo paper product which could be reused as a rain shield, greeting card, baby diaper or origami paper.***** Now, having read a number of key pieces of liberal propaganda by radicals such as Barbara Kingsolver and Joel Salatin, I knew the following things must also be true:
  • Liberals support LOCAL businesses, NOT big corporations.
So I checked the labels of all the soaps and found one that had been milled just south of us in Connecticut. Unfortunately, the size of the soap operation was not discussed on the label. (I briefly considered that buying this particular bar in a Whole Foods, technically a corporation based in Austin, TX, might not be "local" enough, but dismissed this as I had already been in the soap aisle for about 10 minutes.) Now, on down the checklist. I think I remember that Cesar Chavez said something about:
  • Liberals support businesses that advocate for fair labor practices.
Hmmm....tricky. I check the bars, but none of the packaging discussed such things as the hourly wage of workers engaged in producing said soap. I decided I'd have to investigate this online when I got home. (Though I doubted there are migrant farm workers engaged in the production of "South of France, Hand Milled Lavendar Body Soap." But you never can tell, right?)

All of this felt very good until I found the one I wanted and noted that it cost $7.******

With a sense of horror, I realized that my liberal values were about to contradict each other. Because I also have other lessons imparted to me by liberal notables such as the Apostle Paul, Thomas Merton, and the Buddha, who have said CRAZY liberal things such as:
  • One must be a good steward of one's resources. 
  • One should use one's resources to help the poor and marginalized, not to glorify oneself. 
  • Buying a bar of soap for $7 is ridiculous.*******
What's a good liberal to do? Pollute the world with noxious chemicals that will end up turning the ocean yellow and cranking up the heat on the globe to sauna level? Contribute yet another package to the island of plastic now floating somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic? Or should I use my money to help those who need it most? What if I recognize that the ones who need support are also likely the ones who will be the most screwed by climate change?  I felt my liberal mind spinning.

After spending probably 5 minutes considering my options, I did what any rational person trying to express her values in the modern world would do: I left. And just didn't get any soap. And I waited for Mr.LIOLI to buy soap for himself and then chided him about not "fulfilling our values" when he came home with a 2-pack of Dove soap that cost $1.50. (No seriously, this is what I did.)

Now multiply the time it took me to come to this conclusion by the number of activities in my day (Should I get the organic carrots or the conventionally yet locally grown carrots? Do I get the recycled thank you note cards, even if they are also the Target-brand ones that will save trees but perpetuate a corporate empire? Do I get the French Roast selection at the coffee shop or the Ethiopian blend? Which is closer, France or Ethiopia? Am I oppressing people in Ethiopia by buying their coffee? Or helping them?) , and you can understand why I haven't had time to write.

I could go on and on and on.....but I just realized we're out of spray cleaner, so I need to log off.......

*This is a completely true story that can be corroborated by Mr. LIOLI who appreciated by attempt to express my values but was also annoyed that there was no soap. 
**I have a love-hate relationships with Whole Foods, though it is where I shop regularly. (It is the closest store to my home.) I also feel so GOOD shopping there, like I'm saving the world with each $6 grapefruit. But the hypocrisy of it sometimes get to me, especially when Mr. L points out that it too is a giant corporation trying to get my money, one which if it was called something else that began with W and ended with ALMART I would go to rallys to protest. Plus. they don't things like Diet Coke and Quaker Instant Oatmeal. And their recycled Aluminum Foil isn't worth the powder to blow it up. Uh-oh. War metaphor. So not liberal...
***I have no idea what "Parabens" actually are, though I once looked it up on Wikipedia and decided that someone made it up. I pretend it means either "Chemicals Made from Baby Bunny Fur" or "Republican Campaign Donations" and feel good that my soap company endorses neither of these things. Liberals, as you may know, love to eliminate things from their lives that they didn't even know were bad for them or would never have cared about.
**** A phrase I am 100% sure has no basis at all other than that the people who make said soap are also liberal.
*****This is not true.
******This IS true.
******* Okay, so I made this up. But it is extrapolated from the others.

Thanks to for the image.

1 comment:

  1. Aren't you so jealous that we have New Seasons! Nayner Nayner Nayner! They aren't too expensive, they have Diet Coke AND the meat is happy. We buy our soap Fred Meyer, though (to be honest D$ buys Irish Spring and I sort of don't really use soap). Is that gross? I do love Ms. Meyers Basil Scented soap. It says somewhere that is from Minneapolis and I pretend that is local cause I used to live there. Probably owned by Target...