The details are fuzzy as I had read this story long time ago but the lesson is clearly imprinted on my mind. Once upon a time, in land far away, some company — let’s call it ACME Corporation — put up a huge billboard advertising their ketchup. The billboard was an eyesore and the local people complained to the authorities to have the company take it down. Fact was that ACME was not breaking any city ordinances and so they refused to remove the billboard. One enterprising woman in the community had an idea on how to deal with ACME. She started a campaign telling others not to buy ACME ketchup and explained why. ACME’s ketchup sales plunged and it got the message. The billboard was history.
Consumer boycott is a very powerful weapon. It can be wielded with devastation force. Refusing to do trade with another sends a powerful message.
[Previous post: Malaysian Repression.]
When I first heard of the institutionalized discrimination of the Malaysian government against their citizens of Indian origin, my first impulse was to make a mental note that I will not fly Malaysian Airlines. If all Indians who sympathize with the discriminated group in Malaysia refuse to buy Malaysian — whether airline tickets, holidays, or furniture imported from Malaysia — it would send a clear signal of disapproval of the people of India. The Indian government has to do nothing. And besides, India has no standing when it comes to Malaysia’s internal affairs. The Indian government cannot and should not do anything, but Indians can and must do something.
The fact is that it is an integrated world — and no nation is an island. We are linked to each other through common humanity for millions of years but now we are also linked through trade and travel. We are all dependent on each other, and if someone tends to forget common humanity, we can use the trade link to remind them of our shared existence and destiny.