Hate the dude in the big truck. Curse the mom who shops at Wal-Mart. Swear at the fat family gorging on supersized value meals.
It's easy to attack the capitalist flaws of society when others flaunt those flaws. Those people above? Easy targets to despise, and even easier to mock. They are the ones screwing up the world, the ones to blame for climate change, poverty, escalating health-care costs, and even the late-night ousting of Conan O'Brien.
After all, some say, they do everything so obviously, pitifully wrong. They violate all of the simple principles about living right, which starts with don't support China and their human rights violations and ends with bringing down the corporate warlords.
On the other hand, those of us on the other side are simply better people. Right?
Maybe not. Here's the thing that is blindingly obvious yet so often ignored: It's easy to do right when the "wrong" is not a choice you'd make anyway.
In college at USU in the mid-90s, I vowed to never shop at Wal-Mart because it was poorly-lit with cramped aisles and had an inordinate amount of screaming babies. About a decade later, I could parlay that aesthetic opposition to Wal-Mart into an appropriate social stand.
I never really drove a big truck because I took a lot of very lengthy road trips, and a small compact simply meant I could go further on less money. And I stopped eating fast food when I actually learned how to cook, because the food just didn't taste very good.
So, I can oppose these things, because it's easy. But what about the things I enjoy, even occasionally?
Case in point, the story embedded below. In brief, the Mexican drug wars resulted in 69 murders in one day earlier this month. That's a record, kind of like 105 degrees on a summer day is a record. In other words, it's notable, but not an aberration. It was just a slightly more productive day.
These are also incredibly gruesome murders. Beheadings followed by the bodies being dissolved in acid. People burned alive in cars. A face being sliced off a murder victim and sewn onto a soccer ball.
What's driving this? The insatiable American appetite for drugs, especially pot. Just as the horrors inflicted on natives in Ecuador are caused by oil companies but, really, blamed on the unyielding demand in America for gas, these horrific murders are done by the drug cartels but the real perpetrators -- if the same logic that justifies the condemnation of truck-driving, Wal-Mart shopping suburbanites can be employed -- are the bike-riding, local-shopping pot smoker. Which is, in reality, just as appropriate a stereotype as the suburbanite one.
So, the next time you fire up a joint, think about where it came from, and at what cost. Because at the other end of the transaction there may very well be a bloody face on a soccer ball.
Note: I credit the greatest columnist still working at a newspaper, Mark Morford, for inspiring this post. Read his column here, which makes a similar point but says it 100 times better.