Imagine yourself sitting at Starbucks, sipping a cup of 6-dollar latte, reading Zygmunt Bauman’s ‘Does Ethics Have A Chance In A World of Consumers?’
When your eyes are on the second sentence of a certain paragraph, a young man politely interrupts. He is in his late twenties, well-built and looked clean. He told you that he is an ex-convict.
He told you that he couldn’t find a job because of his social status. He showed you all the certificates to back his testimony. He told you that he is now trying to earn a living by selling you 2 pens for 5-dollar. He asked you to support him by getting the pens.
You looked at the pens and immediately you know that the two pens cost less than 1 dollar.
You know that those certificates could be faked.
You know how awful and stupid you will feel, if you bought the pens and found out that this is indeed a scam.
You know how foolish and pathetic you will be to this man, if you bought the pens and this is indeed a scam.
On a wider social scale, you know that there are scams going around the city. You know that if indeed this is a scam, and if you bought the pens, your act is a form of approval of such scam.
To widen the social impact further, if this is indeed a scam, you know that your act will cultivate more of such ploys. The con-business will bloom because of your act. In a way, your act breeds evil.
You know that the Jesus urged his people to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt 10.16).
And you know too well that human beings are fallen and wicked by nature.
So, will you buy the 2 pens for a price that is less than your cup of latte? That’s one thing that you don’t know.
Actually, that is not the one thing that you don’t know. If you buy the over-charged pen, you don’t know how much hope does your act will bring to him. You don’t know whether are those certificates faked. You don’t know how grateful he will be. You don’t know how much impact does your act have to the society as a whole.
And finally, at a certain point of time, you don’t know why are you reading a book about bringing hope back into a world that charges 6-dollar for a cup of coffee.