21 February 2007

Coke, Culture, and CDSP


On the pass-around internet surveys that ask you to choose between coke and pepsi (you know, the ones that begin with "what time did you get up this morning?"...) I always choose coke. coke is just hands-down better.

In the last few years, M has brought to my attention the horrors of the Coca-Cola company, most notoriously for its role in depleting the water suppy of India. If you've seen the well-made documentary The Corporation, you know there are plenty of reasons to swear off Coke forever. The convenience of Coke, its ubiquity, and the way it is so normal-feeling and American make it leaving it behind a hard decision to sustain over time. Right after seeing The Corporation I swore it off, and later picked it back up after the shock and repulsion of the facts wore off and I'd seen it everywhere, and the warm fuzzy image of it took up more space in my consciousness once again.

Last year at a Community Council meeting at my seminary, discussion was underway about whether to get a Coke machine to raise money to fund the missionary activities we sponsor. At one of those discussions, M raised the possibility of not using Coke for this project, suggesting that giving money to this company in order to fund missionary activity was not good stewardship and unjust. The reaction of the crowd at that meeting was cold and dismissive, and we got a Coke machine.

In my Christian Ed class yesterday, someone brought a bottle of Dasani water for show-and-tell as their cultural artifact. This led to a discussion of the Coca-Cola Company, and I was so surprised to hear the overwhelming majority of comments express a knowledge of the evils of Coke and its social and environmental destruction. It was a different sentiment altogether; now Coke wasn't what we wanted in our hallway, it was an example of the evils of our culture. But right outside our classroom sat the new Coke machine.

Has the culture of CDSP changed? it's a complicated question to answer. I wonder if its worth wondering whether the Community Council (student government) has different opinions of Coke than the student body as represented in that class? Perhaps the Council does not reflect what students would have wanted in their hallway? I wonder if sentiments have changed with the entering class's more intentional focus on justice issues? I wonder if M's comments had an effect? With only a year between the two experiences, it made me think: how do we know what the dominant voices of our community are saying? is it worth trying to figure that out?

The people in the Christian Ed class with Coke products in front of them kept silent. I kept silent in my state of observation. Who kept silent in the Council meetings last year? Who might have spoken up in either situation if the tide was flowing in another direction?

3 Comments:

Blogger mikey said...

The Corporation was already on my Netflix and I thinking I'm going to bump it up now. So...maybe I'll be giving up Coke for Lent and for good? Besides I've found some really great all natural all organic ginerale that is so wonderful it makes Coke look like a chump.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Katie Knoll said...

I am sorry but I love coke. I know that it is horrible but so is using toliet paper to wipe your ass. It is not as extreme as coke is with its horrible impact on this beautiful world, its economic destructive cababilities, not to mention its horrible impact on the human body. But if someone were to sit me down and ask me what soft drink I would like to quench my thirst I am going to choose coke. Maybe someday I will realize that there are things in this world that are more satisfying then my own satisfaction, and when that day comes I guess I will be ordering water.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Mrs. M said...

It's interesting how we sometimes choose to be willfully ignorant, and other times choose to respond responsibly.

I didn't know about the social issues with Coke (just that, frankly the artificialness makes it a little nasty to put into my body).

A tasty alternative (particularly as I don't have much of a sweet tooth): seltzer and juice. Of course, now I'm going to go see what my juice and seltzer companies are doing...

8:09 AM  

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