My last post - Why You Should Shop at Walmart - garnered a bit of a reaction. (I even lost subscribers!)
One of my readers responded and said:
Provocative piece and lots to disagree about.
Two things that jump out:
1. Walmart's reprehensible labor practices and pay scales 2. One reason their prices are so low is because they beat up their suppliers. In the food sector they're putting people out of business.
The points above are important.
I could list many other things that make me cringe about Walmart, including:
• Walmart puts people out of business not just in the food sector, but in all sectors. Small main street businesses across America have been forced to shutter when a Walmart comes to town.
• Walmart is disastrous from an urban planning and livability perspective. They devitalize main streets and town centers, while encouraging car-centric sprawl and acres of pavement. The combined area of Walmart parking is about the size of Tampa, Florida.
• Walmart pays their employees so poorly, that many of them are forced to use public benefits ranging from food stamps to subsidized health care. So while on the surface it may seem like Walmart pays a lot of taxes, their net contribution to Uncle Sam is much less rosy - perhaps even negative.
These are just a few of the counterpoints to the worldview I presented in Why You Should Shop at Walmart.
The point of the previous post was not to share my personal opinion about Walmart - but to go through the exercise of seeing and understanding another worldview.
By stepping fully and non-judgmentally into another perspective we can increase our empathy, strengthen our understanding of reality, and occasionally even change our mind about long held beliefs -- or at least soften around the edges.
My hope is that these posts help illuminate something which I have come to appreciate more and more over time: The world is not black and white. No person or company or idea is 100% good or 100% bad.
We live in a messy, crazy world with trade-offs, nuance, and millions of shades of gray.
It may be tempting to caricature those whose values don't align with yours, but that's a short game. It is a disservice to you, your goals, and the world to ignore the rigor and nuance necessary to fully grasp real word problems and long term solutions.
You won't change anyone's mind if you're dogmatic and stubborn. You might win the argument by steamrolling them and make them feel resentful, but again - that's a short game.
On the other hand, if you meet people where they are with empathy and understanding, you have a better chance at making the change you want to see in the world (h/t to Seth).
I don't care whether you think Walmart is good or evil. I'd argue 1) they're neither good nor evil and 2) it's worth appreciating a different worldview - if only for a moment.