Dec 7, 2011

Cheering Good Choices

The Coca Cola company in Portugal ran a campaign to see what people would do if they found a wallet in a stadium box office containing tickets to a game obviously belonging to a fan of the opposite team affiliation.

As you can see, most people turned the wallet in to the desk.

(As an aside, I recently had a discussion with someone who wanted to claim that people who are not Jewish, or not frum, don't really do kind acts, chessed, or anything moral. He basically claimed that anything good they do is for ulterior motives - I am simplifying his position for brevity (and because I don't know how to explain it completely). Only frum Jews can really do chessed or kind acts. I obviously disagreed with that, and I think this video shows that people can be kind, moral, and do good deeds even if they are not [frum] Jews...)

Then, Coca Cola gave each person a free ticket to the game. And at the game they showed the campaign on the screen and gave a standing ovation to the people who showed that most would do the right thing.

It seemed to me that this was making too big of a deal of something very mundane. Sure, it's nice they turned in the wallet, but really? Is that really such a big thing to deserve such applause and such a ceremony? By doing these things are we "dumbing down" society, showing we expect so little of them? Had a person done a heroic act and saved a life, I could understand cheering for him, honoring him. I could also understand if the cheering was for doing something unusual, something that most people would choose otherwise - to not do the "right" thing. When 95% of the people react the same way, I would suggest it is standard behavior, and while nice to know about I am not quite sure it is deserving of the honor Coca Cola gave them.

All that being said, it is still a beautiful video and event.


  1. I think it's a nice affirmation of humanity, that most people WILL do the right thing...

  2. I agree with Anon. It's not dumbing down society. It's a basic obligation and yet, we all have reason to believe that people wouldn't. So this restores faith in the basics of society.

    I think saving someone's life is perhaps more expected than returning a lost wallet. Fewer people would stand by and let someone die, knowing they could do something about it. But to keep a lost wallet - no one will know...he's a fan of the other's a "smaller" crime than not saving a life.

    In this sense, I think this is a better display of the humanity of mankind. And it's nice to see something nice for a change.

  3. Rafi, I disagree with your cynicism regarding whether it is a big deal or not... but first let me indulge in my own cynicism at the big Coca Cola corporation wanting to be identified with happiness, honesty and all things good and pure.

    That said I agree with anonymous. It is a big deal and worthy of applause. Everybody thinks that everybody would take the wallet. Showing everybody that almost everybody wouldn't, is a service to humanity (even if that is a bit bombastic) and publically acknowledging ordinary everybody as upstanding members of the human race is a worthy cause.

  4. I hear. It just seems to me like overdoing it for something so basic. I think I would feel uncomfortable being acknowledged like that, if I had been one of those. I mean, there are people doing great things, overcoming great challenges - all I did was return a wallet.

    But I hear the benefit of affirming that people are good, ordinary people should be acknowledged, the humanity..

  5. "Had a person done a heroic act and saved a life, I could understand cheering for him..."

    Is it in connection with Lot that we talk about how it was a little thing that saved him from Sdom's destruction?

    Rafi I think there's an insight here that the people aren't individually worthy of praise for their little act, but as representatives of humanity they are appropriate recipients of a standing ovation. I like how Rafi S put it, about restoring our faith in each other.

  6. Rafi, you're not wrong that it's over doing something so basic, but the mere fact that we tend to think that society has moved away from these acts of chesed makes it vital that we do point out when it's done right. It's basic education, not terribly sophisticated, but nonetheless important.


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