Friday, January 13, 2017
Friday Freebie: My L. L. Bean Slippers
L. L. Bean. Maker of the slippers I live in.
As news stories reveal Linda Bean's substantial contributions to a PAC supporting the president elect and the Twitter-verse plunges into boycott outrage, I'm contemplating what this means to me and my slippers.
Linda Bean is the granddaughter of the company founder, as well as a board member. Most relevant to me is the fact that she's co-owner of L. L. Bean, which means that the money that I pay for my slippers ends up in her hands.
From there, it could be argued, it's up to her to do what she wants with it. After all, once I have my slippers, my money has become rightfully hers. But I can't say I'm happy about it landing in a PAC that supported Donald Trump.
But it's more complicated than that because there are lots of other things I can't say.
I can't say that Linda Bean is a terrible person -- I've never met her.
I can't say that she's responsible for any of the things I find reprehensible about our PE, or the misguided initial actions of our Congress in the past two weeks.
I can't say that she, or her company, or any of the folks who depend on L. L. Bean -- and by extension, Linda Bean -- for a paycheck agrees with every word that comes out of the PE's mouth or every policy he supports.
And I can't say I don't love my slippers. Or the new pair upstairs waiting to replace the ones I'm wearing once I've worn these out.
Usually, on Fridays, I just post a story to share, but today, I'm sharing mine because I find this decision challenging. I know where I don't want my money going.
But I also know I don't want to yield to a knee-jerk (or any other kind of jerk) reaction.
I need to remember that Linda Bean is a person. Just as I'm not disowning family members whose political allegiances differ from mine, or condemning students who voted differently than I did, I can't necessarily hold a company responsible for anything more than its products without thinking things through.
In a kinder, gentler time, I would have made a knee-jerk decision. But now, when vitriol is more prevalent than impulsive tweets from the PE, I feel the need to do some thinking. Not just because I love my slippers, but also because I need to be careful not to toss aside someone whose views differ from my own because all that will do is lead to more vitriol and divisiveness.
This won't be the last -- or most challenging -- decision I need to make in the next four years when it comes to people vs. politics.
And there's a lot more at stake than my slippers.