With citizens and consumers of all political persuasions increasingly ready to express their frustration via protests and boycotts, does individual participation matter? In this article, a Howard University philosophy professor argues that yes, it does -- not necessarily because of the impact our participation will have on the issue at hand but because of the impact participating, or not, has on our self-identities.
"But what if your boycott is not 'heard' by the corporation? Successful large-scale boycotts garner significant media attention. But why should one participate in a small-scale boycott that is unlikely to have an economic impact on, or to be heard by, the offending corporation? ... Wouldn’t it be more rational for me to abandon my boycott? No! Personal integrity is important. Living out and expressing our values (even if only to ourselves) is essential. Even if the corporation never hears your voice or your group’s, you will hear it. That voice needs to be one that you can respect. As a consumer, you can gain a sense of dignity in knowing that corporations can’t manipulate you with convenience and price, that you have principles that extend beyond your personal bottom line. That knowledge is invaluable."
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