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Crying at the Grave

I don’t shop at Wal Mart. It took me awhile to work through the stages of change, but I finally broke the habit.  A hard one it was, too, since Wal Mart takes the place of the grocery, the hardware store, sporting goods store and so on. In one small city where I used to live, Columbus, GA, you could meet everyone you knew at the Wal Mart at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night. I had to remember to always wear my good flip flops.

But I kept reading about all those class action law suits filed by women who were paid less than men, who didn’t get promoted when they did the same work.  All those little stores that went out of business when Wal Mart came to town. Then there was that documentary, The High Cost of Low Prices, with its footage of overseas sweat shops. So eventually I stopped my one stop shopping and when people asked me why, I simply said, I don’t like the way they treat people and left it at that.

Then that Walton heiress had to come along and build that damn art museum up north in the corner of my/her state. I hear it’s really, really good. I want to see it. I have an emerging fifteen year old artist in my family. I want him to see it. So I’m trying to decide to go or not to go.

Since I don’t buy their stuff, should I go to their art museum? Doesn’t the money to pay for the museum come at the expense of poor people? What about all the other things I partake in that comes at the expense of poor people? Does my boycott of Wal Mart really matter, or have I just learned to cry at the grave? Gabriel Marquez has a story I love called Maria dos Prazeres about an elderly woman who teaches her little dog to cry on command, so when she dies, he’ll go to her grave and weep, and she’ll have someone to mourn her. My efforts seem as false and puny to me as that dog’s trained tears.

                Any thoughts?


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Sherry,As you're


As you're painfully learning, it's neither simple nor easy to live "authentically" or to even distinguish clearly at times between the authentic and inauthentic ("false").

Your anguish over making choices is basically our existential condition, reminding me of  memorable lines from a Hart Crane poem, roughly quoted here: "So it was I came into the broken world/ to trace the visionary company of love/its voice an instant in the wind/I know not whither hurled/but not for long to hold each desperate choice."

It would be preferable for the well-being of our moral sensitivities if we could "remold" the world "closer to our heart's desires"  (assuming they are of the pure and well-intentioned type in your blog) but the reality is that liiving is all too frequently rather "messy" in the moral sphere.  Before life is over, we mortals all lose our innocence somewhere along the way, which, in itself, is sufficient cause to shed a tear. 

Be well,


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I decided to visit Crystal

I decided to visit Crystal Bridges over the New Year's weekend with three boys. The ten year old and I were very excited by the far out buildings...being there felt like entering into an art installation and becoming part of the exhibit. I realized that he could not stand in front of a painting longer than 45 seconds so we gave that up and spent most of our time riding up and down in the glass elevators. The teenager, mentioned in the blog, who has artistic sensibilites never took off his dark sunglasses the entire time we were there. This is what I hope they remember: I loved them enough to take them on a 400 mile car trip to see a new art museum.