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Companies Do Everything for Money (And That's OK)

Whenever a company does something charitable, we have the usual naysayers pointing out that they did it to get the money. It's happening now with brewing companies pulling out of the St. Patrick's Day parade, and it's happened with Oreo and Cheerios and any number of businesses. But that misses the point - so what?

When I was in high school, my school required 6 hours of volunteer work every semester. One of my close friends used to argue with me about whether it's morally right to force students who didn't want to volunteer to do it anyway; was it really a good thing if the student helps miserably in a soup kitchen for six hours a semester, not expanding their viewpoint or doing any real good? I would argue that the people needed to get fed so at the least a privileged student would be put out for a few hours a semester for the benefit of the underprivileged, even if it didn't lead to a great enlightenment. I didn't know it then, but I had started thinking of effects as eclipsing intentions in importance to our society.

I still think this way today, which is why I get exasperated when I see people accusing companies of doing the right thing solely for the precious gay dollars, fat dollars, interracial dollars, or poor dollars (ha). It always seems to be some kind of "gotcha" point, as if every good the action does is negated by the fact that the intentions behind it weren't to further social justice. Which just...isn't true. Take this wonderful piece by Meagan Hatcher-Mays from the Cheerios "scandal", and imagine it with the assumption that Cheerios was creating this commercial purely because they thought interracial families were an untapped market and wanted their money. Would this read any differently?


So, this is just a stupid commercial about Cheerios but it means a lot to me. It shows interracial families and their children being normal and cute, not something to gawk at or to question.

The fact is, we can't see a company's intentions. All we can see is what they do and the effects those actions have on the world around us. Sure, maybe Guinness is boycotting the St. Patrick's Day parade because it wants those sweet, sweet gay dollars. But the effect is to send a message that a large, popular company is willing to take some kind of stand against discrimination. The effect is solidarity with those that don't have the same pull as you. The effect is contributing to the push for a culture where being silent on homophobia is the exception, not the norm.

And if they get tons of profit from being good people? Good for them! What a world we live in, where doing the right thing gets you profit. It doesn't cheapen their stance to get a benefit from it; it means our society is moving in the right direction, where being decent human beings can earn you more than a punch to the gut. I vote instead of dismissing companies supporting good causes because they got a profit off of it, we make sure that all companies get a profit off of supporting good causes; then more companies would do it, their advertising reach would help the message worm into the minds of people watching TV or browsing the internet or reading a magazine, and we would move in the right direction.

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