November 10, 2016
I am a frequent customer at Starbucks. About ten days ago they introduced new green cups for their beverages. At first glance you could notice that the cups had human figures on them. There was an explanation on the Starbucks website:
“A single line connects the figures. A coffee farmer, a family, a barista, friends embracing. A mosaic of more than a hundred people drawn in one continuous stroke is featured on a new Starbucks green cup.
‘The green cup and the design represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers. During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other,’ said Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO.”
I’m not sure I need my coffee cup to influence me to embrace my fellow human beings in spite of our differences. And I’m not sure how many Starbucks customers would take the time to look up the explanation. Most of us just want our coffee.
On the other hand, Starbucks and their chair, Howard Schulz, have frequently used their market position and popularity to promote social and political values. For them, it is more than just coffee.
The cups debuted on November 1, the election was held November 8, and by my observation the cups failed. There was a great deal of division and rancor prior to the election that Starbucks tried to address graphically. Based on my observation of social media, and the conventional media’s coverage of reactions, the division became more heated after the election.
I will confess that I was both disappointed and proud of the response by some of my friends in faith. I was disappointed in those who chose to print expletives and disgusting posts about the President-elect I was disappointed in those who gloated in their candidate’s victory and continued to post negative comments about Ms. Clinton. I was proud of those who were disappointed, discouraged, depressed or dismayed by the outcome, but hung on to the teaching of Jesus in their responses. I was proud of those who were humble in victory.
The Bible has a lot to teach us about the way to approach these situations in life. One of the most difficult things for us to do is to step back and embrace God’s expressed perspective on life.
The Starbucks’ cup depiction of our life together is compelling. The variety of people who are all drawn by one line that connects them together in spite of their differences has power. From my perspective that one line represents the Holy Spirit who is the only power that can help us to overcome our differences and move us forward.
May we all become more like Jesus.