Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'd Like to Teach the World . . .

A wonderful old friend and favorite conversation partner of mine has CFS. She doesn't have gobs of extra energy, and she worries about not keeping up with people. I told her she should start blogging to reach the maximum number of people with the minimum effort. This also lets you blurt out some things that might not come up in day-to-day conversation, but could be worth letting people know anyhow. I don't think she's fired up a blog yet (I know some arguments against the scheme), so she'll have to suffer along seeing me post this one my way.

I don't have a lot of use for Coke. (This is a can a friend left in my fridge about a year ago. I've used both the maple syrup to the left and the butterscotch topping to the right, but I haven't touched the Coke. Not even tempted.) The drink is nothing more than caramel-colored, carbonated sugar water. The biggest joke in the world is that there's some reason to prefer it to Pepsi, or vice versa. It's like arguing over whether there's more value in a bucket of air or a bucket of smoke. But the Coca-Cola Company has done an excellent job at peddling their core product for the past century, to the point where the brand and the product are recognized and (generally) liked worldwide.

I'll rant for a moment: My elected government spends trillions of dollars per year (that's millions of millions) sustaining the most advanced ability to kill people that the world has ever known. Ignoring the ethics of this for a moment, that strikes me as a stupefyingly expensive way to maintain influence over affairs in distant lands. For a tiny fraction of those sums, Coca-Cola has people worldwide convinced that an essentially useless product is not only pretty neat and friendly, but also worth spending hard-earned money on. Could we not save a few bucks in our attempts to influence world affairs and ensure national security, and instead of killing people just try to convince them that a well-meaning economic and cultural powerhouse that's been run democratically longer than nearly any other nation on the planet isn't a Great Satan? O.K., I'm sure there are very good reasons this wouldn't work, or we would have been doing it for years now. End of rant.

Anyhow, I've never had much use for Coke. But I was delighted to learn recently that someone has finally found a great way to use one of the Coca-Cola Company's products to make this world a better place.

See why I think my old friend should have her own blog?

P.S. I told you already I talk too much.


Papa Bradstein said...

The benefits of this are obvious: we can still blow things up (sort of) and spread democracy.

One of the most amazing sights I recall from Morocco was high in the Atlas Mountains, in a village that couldn't have had more than a couple dozen buildings. Painted on the side of one was a Coke advertisement that looked pretty old.

It probably goes back to WWII, when Coke promised that U.S. soldiers could get a Coke anywhere in the world that they were fighting for the going rate in the States--five cents in those days.

To make this happen, they built bottling plants around the world, many of which remain to this day, even in countries that we may not have the best relations with. I can only assume that they advertised in these countries as well, hence the ad we saw.

It does prove the point that if you have something that people want like, say, sugar water or democracy, and you give it to them at a reasonable price like, say, five cents, and if you don't blow up their entire village when you deliver it, they not only like you, they embrace you. They also make you part of their culture, alongside their own institutions, like mint tea, which has slightly more sugar than Coke.

Henitsirk said...

Sadly, it's still easier for most people to hit rather than talk. Perhaps I think that way because I live with two toddlers, but that seems about the emotional level of our governing bodies.