It was a hot and uncomfortable day. The kids begged us to take them to the zoo. We knew it would be uncomfortable. Still, we caved in. We decided to go.
Going to the zoo always gives me mixed emotions. It’s a thrill to see animals I would otherwise never see.
Yet, when I see two lions stare at me from behind a fence, I feel sorry for them. They’re imprisoned against their will. They’re unable to live a life they evolved to live.
Some of these animals are rescued, rehabbed and then released back into the wild. This is the case of the sea turtles. Most of the baby sea turtles do not make it into adulthood. Natural predators and human intervention disrupt their normal development.
The zoo rescues the sea turtles as babies. They nurture and care for them until they reach an age where they can survive on their own. Once fit for survival, they release them back into the wild.
Playing Mental Gymnastics
For all the conflict I feel about caged animals, the zoo does good work saving many of these animals. This allows me to reconcile my enjoyment of going to the zoo.
Most of us don’t really think about it but we do this sort of mental gymnastics all the time.
When you feel conflicting thoughts about something, you need to somehow reconcile those thoughts. I have conflicting thoughts about going to the zoo. Keeping animals caged bothers me. But I reconcile that by recognizing the good work they do in rehabilitating animals.
The Same Discord Rattles Us In Business
We may not agree with the values or practices of a big business. We decide to shop there anyway. How do we justify it? Our absence could cost jobs of innocent workers.
Some in marketing and sales resort to the lowest of practices to lure customers. They justify it by stating their product saves lives or transforms lives. In some cases that may be true. Most of the time they’re fooling themselves. In both cases, it’s just mental gymnastics.
How far can you go to sell your product without crossing an ethical boundary? Here’s advice I give whenever someone questions the ethics of persuasion, sales or marketing.
If you try and sell someone the Brooklyn Bridge, no sales or marketing tactic is justified. If a loved one suffers from a drug addiction and needs rehab to save his life, no sales or marketing tactic is off limits. Everything else is a gray area.
Just about all of us operate in that gray area. We don’t sell snake oil. Nor do we deal with life and death decisions. You only have your own moral compass to steer you in the right direction.