When Michelle Incanno ordered her venti-house-blend-nonfat-two-Splenda at her Springboro Starbucks last week she got more than she bargained for… and more than she could stomach. Printed on the cup was this —
“Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”
The quote isn’t Starbucks’ own, but instead another customer’s… part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” collection of viewpoints and conversation-starters than have graced their cups for some two years now. Regardless, it didn’t play well in Springboro… at least not with Incanno. She’s vowed never to darken Starbucks’ door again.
“As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that. I don’t think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee.”
This doesn’t appear to be a case of someone not understanding that the message on the cup isn’t the opinion of Starbucks itself. She understands. She just doesn’t care. Which is a shame, of course, but also much more.
Let’s move beyond this specific message itself for a moment and examine the underlying principle at play here. The way *I* see it, these United States are now largely populated by folks so tightly bound-up in their own ideology and narrow philosophy that they bristle at, vilify and reject any point of view that differs demonstrably from their own. Heaven forbid they engage that point of view and explore it. More, such folk are more than willing to paint with a brush so broad it daubs and splashes both the author of the message and its publisher equally, as though they were one and the same. This is, at best, a spurious argument… at worst, it’s the stuff that our daily discourse has ground down to: demagogy.
Maybe I underestimated what Starbucks was up to with their The Way I See It series. Me, I thought they were simply looking to start conversations in the coffee house. Perhaps, instead, they’re trying to teach us how to have a conversation again. ‘Cause it sure enough appears we’ve forgotten.
I have issues with some of Starbucks coffee purchasing practices. I have issues with some of their employment practices. But I have new found respect for Starbucks’ effort to play a role in fostering conversation and community… even when it means printing a point of view that doesn’t play well in Peoria. Or Springboro.