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Holy Cow, Holier Than Thou: Ice-Cream Company Condescension



In the hit Breaking Bad spin-off show Better Call Saul, much of the plot is driven solely by the fact that one of the main antagonists is perceived as self-righteous and condescending to the main character, Jimmy McGill. This trope works well in America's individualistic culture because our values and sense of universal human dignity lead us to resent the condescension of the proud. This idea was not invented in the United States; the sanctimoniousness of those who think themselves holier-than-thou has been condemned since the beginning of time.


The Fall in the Garden of Eden, the creation of the Tower of Babel, and the unfaithfulness of the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf are all examples of the failures of those proud men who thought they knew better than God. It is for this reason that Proverbs 11:2 teaches that "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."


Despite the commonality of this wisdom, it is surprising how uncommon its practice really is in daily life. For evidence of this fact, consider the tweet published by Ben & Jerry's on Independence Day "This 4th of July, it's high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it. Learn more and take action now." [1]


In principle, no Christian should, in good conscience, condone conquering other people for personal gain. However, this tweet was plainly not intended to stir a sincere discussion of the matter. It was instead intended for one purpose only: to virtue signal and assume a position of self-righteousness—never mind the fact that the company's own South Burlington, Vermont, headquarters are built on what was formerly indigenous-owned land. [4]


Clues to these self-righteous intentions are evident in the tweet's incendiary timing on a day on which America celebrates its formation and the impossible—yet "sexy"— proposal that non-Indigenous people should somehow transplant themselves elsewhere to "return" land that was "stolen" by generations that are long dead.


As people across the United States called for a Ben & Jerry's boycott, others dug into the company's business dealings to find evidence of its latent hypocrisy. Aside from building their headquarters on stolen land, the New York Post also uncovered revelations made by the Ukraine Solidarity Project, which reported that "Unilever [the owner of Ben & Jerry's] is contributing hundreds of millions in tax revenues to [Russia] which is killing civilians and funding a mercenary group about to be designated a terrorist organization in the UK…Some of the world's biggest companies have already left Russia… It's possible — after 16 months of war — that the time for excuses has passed." [3]


Just like the Pharisees, Ben & Jerry's "righteousness" is nothing but an act: a public performance without internal substance. Ultimately, all of us are fallen. While we can seek righteousness through the redemptive love of Jesus Christ, none of us can do so while continuing to live in the sin of self-righteousness without recognizing our own moral impurity.


Let us not forget the admonishments of Romans 12:3: "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."


Neither people nor their companies should think of themselves more highly than they ought. Until we learn to accept that basic fact, our discourse will continue to devolve.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 


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