Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Every once in a while an article comes along which highlights the human condition so profoundly it’s breathtaking.  Take the Starbucks credit card fiasco reported in this Australian Herald Sun article.

So “good guy” Jonathan Stark makes his Starbucks credit card available for anyone to buy themselves a coffee then pay the favour forward to anyone else.  It worked; thousands of dollars passed through the card’s credit and warm fuzzies and cappuccinos abounded.  Until “one bad apple” Sam Odio showed up and abused the system.  He skimmed money off the card onto his until he had netted over $600 in stolen coffee credit.

In a way the money issue is not what interests me here but his reaction to the fiasco.  He claims he is the better person in the experiment because he took the moral high ground – he is not going to keep the stolen money for himself but is going to sell the card and donate the proceeds to Save the Children.  What a guy, he’s so much better than those shallow coffee addicts right?

Well, he certainly thinks so

And so Sam Odio becomes the poster child for the human condition.  Yearning to show ourselves to be better than the other guys, more authentic, more deep, more caring.  But can we pull it off?  

‘"I do believe that we make hard choices every day, and by buying coffee we're inherently making a choice not to spend that money on other causes," he said.  "My goal in this experiment was to highlight the nature of that hard choice. This is an issue that philosophers have struggled with for hundreds of years."

However Odio also admitted buying a "fair share" of Starbuckscoffee himself.’

Hmmm it seems not.   God demands that we love our neighbour asourselves.  For Sam Odio this has proved impossible.  For me this is impossible.  When someone accuses me of a wrongdoing my first inclination is to become Sam Odio; to justify my behaviour so I come out of the situation as the good guy, not the shallow one.  My first thought is not for my neighbour’s wellbeing, but for my own. 


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