My wife and I enjoy volunteering to help others. While living in Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands), we volunteered to help clean up the island and helped start a group to combat the stigma of mental illness.
Back during my college days at Baylor University, I would make my group do volunteer work. And though some of them didn’t like it at first, they thanked me for it later on. For almost two years, I volunteered at a food pantry center, cleaning and organizing can goods which would then be given to those who needed food.
It’s a great feeling knowing deep down that what you do (i.e. helping others without any financial reward) comes back tenfold in the form of emotional gifts of thanks or just knowing that you did the right thing.
So when I came across this story in the New York Times about a clothing store discarding brand new clothes rather than giving them away to those who could use them, it made me really sad and then mad.
According to the New York Times, “bags of garments that appear to have never been worn” were found at the back entrance of the H&M clothing store. What’s even more disturbing was that these unworn garments were “slashed most of them with box cutters or razors” to make sure that no one could wear them!
Not too far from the H&M store were trash bags (found the week before Christmas) with clothing tagged for sale in Walmart stores. These garments had “holes punched through it by a machine” to also prevent people from being able to use them.
With phrases on the H&M’s website like corporate responsibility and statements promising to donate clothes to charity, I wonder if these acts (they’ve happened before) of destroying unworn clothes rather than giving them away are indications of a disregard for the well-being of others and a general decline in our collective moral conscience.
Kassin, Fein, & Markus (2008) found that there are two qualities that predict helping behaviors, empathy and moral reasoning.
Here are two questions for us to ask ourselves:
- Why have we forgotten or ignored the cries of our fellow men and women in need?
- Where is our sense of decency and compassion?
Dwyer, J. (2010). A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/nyregion/06about.html
Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H.R. (2008). Social psychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.