Alisha Warren

WRD 103

Professor Plattner

The Ugly Truth


The book of Matthew offers pieces of wisdom that suggest a selfless way of life, for it will bring you a great deal of happiness in heaven. However, the motivations of today’s society are geared towards wealth as opposed to being geared towards god. This new motivation is the culprit of greedy and selfish behavior among many societies. The more wealth one acquires, the more intense this behavior becomes; as a result, the most fortunate people will take advantage of the less fortunate in order to pursue their goal of getting the most output for the least amount of input. “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first,” in the entrance to the holy land. (Matthew 19:30)

Our Benjamin’s vs. Our Heavenly Father

The ugly truth of the world today is that most of us would rather count our dollars than our blessings. Our overly obsessive attitude towards image has enabled money to run our lives, which takes the blame for our greediness and insensitivity. An ideal image in our culture is that of the “American Dream”- owning a home in a middle class neighborhood with a stable career and enough disposable income to enjoy the finer things in life. We are willing to go to great lengths to achieve this image, even if it involves lying, cheating, and stealing. As a result, people have to be selfish and insensitive in order to achieve a respectable image and wealthy lifestyle these days. The fact of the matter is, it’s clear that too many of us are more worried about where we stand in society as opposed to where we stand with god. Despite the fact that the wealthy often times abuse their fortune, they are still seen as being morally correct. On the contrary, the poor are viewed as morally unstable individuals simply because of their misfortunes. However, the ones who are making the most money are often times the ones who are resisting all of the principles that Jesus promotes.

In the industry of one-stop shopping centers, Wal-Mart is one of the greediest among its competitors. Although they offer some of the lowest prices on major brands, they rip off those who are responsible for filling their shelves. On top of that, they have made false claims regarding where their products were produced. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” because the richest are almost always the guiltiest of all. (Matthew 19:24)

In December of 1992, Wal-Mart unleashed a new campaign called the “Buy America Program,” which promoted the production and sale of American made products in their stores. However, “in one department after another, goods made in Bangladesh, Korea, and China” were found under “signs saying MADE IN USA.” (Ortega, 223) When David Glass, the chief officer of Wal-Mart, was presented with bold evidence of this, he simply put the blame on the individual stores. He was left speechless when NBC’s Brian Ross rolled the video showing pre-teen boys and girls working in factories overseas, producing the same clothing that is found hanging on Wal-Mart’s apparel racks. Not only does this contradict everything that the “Buy America Program” stands for, but is also a major violation of child labor laws. The minimum working age in Bangladesh is fourteen years old; it was clear that many of the workers were pre-teens. Glass came up with the theory that “Asian workers just look young because they are so small,” in an attempt to cover up the fact that serious laws were being broken. (Ortega, 227) This is a prime example of how these superstore giants-along with many others-use the poor to their advantage, turning a cold shoulder to morals and honesty. They outsource to under-developed nations knowing very well that they can get a lot of work out these people for the least amount of money. Following that, Glass was shown several pictures of children who had died after being locked in a factory for an extended period of time. His emotionless response was, “there are tragic things that happen all over the world.” (Ortega, 225) This represents a man who has let greed step in the way of his integrity. He is not a strong enough man to make drastic changes for the world because it would compromise the profits of his company, for he does “not have in mind the things of god, but the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus makes a valid suggestion; instead of racking up treasures on earth where “moth and rust will destroy” them, work to build up treasures in heaven “where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”(Matthew 6:19-20) Money hungry individuals such as David Glass are so consumed in building up their fortunes that they are drawing themselves further away from the Holy Spirit. As far as Jesus is concerned, “whatever you lose on earth, you will lose in heaven.”(Matthew 16:19)

Corporate Values vs. Moral Values

John Morell & Company is one of the major producers of the US meat industry. Day in and day out, the company practices inhumane ways of slaughtering. Nearly 75,000 hogs are slaughtered and processed every week. The issue is not that hogs are being killed, but that they are not being killed properly. Before any slaughtering takes place, each hog must be stunned to the point of losing consciousness. This is done to ensure that the hog will feel absolutely no pain when they are dipped into the pool of scalding hot water. However, the dilemma lies in the strength of the jolt that goes into each stun. “If the stun operator improperly applied the electrodes, the jolt will burst capillaries in the hogs back,” which will ultimately make the meat look “bruised and bloody, thus lowering its value.” (Eisnitz, 66) “Lowering the current to the stunning equipment” proved to be the solution to “blown loins.”(Eisnitz, 66) Former John Morell & Company employee, Tommy Vladak said that when it comes to blown loins, “two or three is still too many” on any given day. (Eisnitz, 69) It is disturbing to think that this company would rather kill hogs while they are still alive than to devalue the meat of two or three. They act as if they are losing a million dollars for every hog that is over-stunned. When conscious hogs go through the line, it not only poses a great risk for the workers, but is also unfair for the animals. Corporate values are driving the abuse and inhumanity while moral values are non-existent. At the end of the day, John Morell & Company brings in more money because they are killing animals alive.

Inside & Out

Any person who is addicted to wealth has compromised his or her morals in one way or another. David Glass was viewed as a “morally correct and honest man” in the eyes of his friends and family. His business Partner, Don Soderquist, was given the honor of “Churchman of the Year” by a national Baptist organization. (Ortega, 258) However, this duo proves that actions speak louder than words. These men can boast their righteousness all day, but they can never excuse the fact that they are responsible for the “exploitation of children…and of Chinese prisoners.” (Ortega, 258)Both of these men go against the morals in which they preach; they demand so much of others, but so little of themselves. Going to church every Sunday is one thing, but applying those principles into daily life is another. It’s what a person does when no one is watching that truly defines them.

The Book of Luke talks about a man who was stripped and beaten by robbers. A priest passed the battered man and so did a Levite. However, a Samaritan “came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” (Luke 10:33) The Samaritan took the man in and “bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.” (Luke 10:34) Not a single person stood around this man when he decided to take the initiative and help out a desperate soul. He made the decision to follow the golden rule of Matthew that states “do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) When it comes to David Glass, he is as respected as a priest or a Levite. He preaches the golden rule of “do to others what you would have them do to you,” every Sunday at church, but fails to follow it when it need be applied. (Matthew 7:12)  In Matthew 23:25, Jesus states that a man can “clean the outside of the cup and dish, but the inside is full of greed and self indulgence.” These men have worked hard to polish themselves on the outside to be humble, morally sound individuals. But inside, they are “full of hypocrisy.” (Matthew 23:28) Everything they do is “done for men to see.” (Matthew 23:5) At the end of the day, “no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other.” (Matthew 6:24) In this case, Glass is a slave and his fortune is his master.

A Lost Soul

The people who are hired to do the dirty work for major corporations are often times the people who carry the most emotional baggage with them at the end of every shift. Tommy Vladak was a sticker for John Morell & Company for nearly nine years before he threw in the towel; he lost more than just a way to make a living when he walked away from his job. His duties were to stick every hog that went through the line in the neck following the stunning process. While explaining the process of killing the hogs, he joked about how the stun operators “enjoyed watching the hog jump up in the air when it was shocked.” (Eisnitz, 69) Quantity outweighed quality when it came to getting hogs through the line. Hogs were being slaughtered at a rate of “one hog every four seconds.”(Eisnitz, 63) Stun operators did a poor job when it came to knocking the hogs out. As a result, Vladak had to take matters into his own hands, sometimes beating hogs to death with a pipe. It got to the point where he was literally fighting for his life. He was no longer concerned about the inhumane practices that were going on; he became “emotionally dead,” and “just as sadistic as the company itself.”(Eisnitz, 75) Humans are creatures of habit; often times our habits will stick with us in all areas of our lives. In the case of Tommy Vladak, he responded to his family as if they were the hogs he stuck on a daily basis. “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away,” would be Jesus’ reaction Vladak’s behavior. (Matthew 18:8) In this case, he would’ve been better off if he entered life “crippled or maimed than to have two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire.” (Matthew 18:9) He became insensitive to anything and anyone around him, even getting physical with his children and wife. Jesus also raises the important question of “what good would it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)Vladak’s way of providing for his family was the very thing that cost him the most important people of his life. He lost himself in his work and carried those behaviors into his personal life. Although he is weighed down by regrets, those mistakes are irreversible. This is proof that money cannot buy happiness and that we are indeed creatures of habit.


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