When Companies You Love Do Bad Things

I find myself running out of airlines to choose from. Recent news reports of passenger mistreatment leave me disappointed in these companies for their policies and/or personnel, and I remember these feelings when I travel, which is fairly frequently. If I am to maintain a stance of solidarity with the grossly mistreated, my options are becoming depleted, and I am legit worried that I will have to start riding trains across the country!

This dilemma carries over to other industries, as I am constantly learning of companies that I ought to boycott for different reasons — from misaligned core political beliefs, to public gaffes followed up by inadequate or non-apologies. Many of these are companies that I have come to rely on, some of which I have even grown to love. This is when it becomes more difficult to boycott a company — when you love what they offer or how they otherwise carry themselves. What is a consumer to do?

I should confess that sometimes there are products and services I buy from companies whose core values don’t align with mine. The reasons vary: sometimes it’s the blurred line between wants and needs, sometimes it’s lack of knowledge of alternative options. In any case, I sometimes do things with a burden of guilt attached, things that are contrary to who I seek to be. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

The good news is that this makes us human. The more we understand the world around us, the less simple life becomes, as much as we may try to fight against that via labels, polarity, and judgement of others (and self). I have no advice to offer here except to say we might as well embrace that we are capable of doing anything, whether we fully want to or not.

The bad news is that sometimes I fly on airlines with staff who would find it difficult to believe that someone with my skin complexion could be a doctor (I’m not naming any names, but you know who you are). But the reality is that I can’t afford the ticket price the other airline is offering.

Others may judge our choices, but my advice is to engage those who judge you when you can, as this territory is grounds for healthy debate. And don’t kick yourself too hard. I may not be able to pick and choose who gets my business under every circumstance, but I can at least afford to find avenues to offer my support of an important cause. And who knows, maybe trains will become the go-to travel option of the future!