How To Be Good

In my perfect world, there would be instructions on "how to be good."  The instructions would be wrapped up in an easy-to-understand e-book. The book would give definitive ways to act that would ensure the most good was being done at all times, and no harm would befall others in the making of those choices.

An impossible book, I know. But a girl can dream.

I had an emotional breakdown in a Valli supermarket on Thursday.  I actually had to put down my shopping basket and walk outside to catch my breath.  The cause of this emotional breakdown?

Feta cheese.

That's right.  Cheese.  Cheese reduced me to tears (more rightly, an exhausting week at work reduced me to tears, but the cheese was the last straw apparently).  You see, my restaurant needed feta mid-week, so I ran out quickly in the middle of service. The supermarket offered a variety of feta; I narrowed down my choices to three.  

There was the cheapest one, which would surely be the best for my business and my staff. I know saving money is so important for the future of the restaurant.

There was the local one, which would surely be the best for reducing my carbon footprint.  I know it's so important not to waste unnecessary fuel on products.

And there was the organic one from Europe, which would surely be the best for the soils of our planet.  I know it's so important to support companies committed to protecting our earth.

In the end, I went with organic.  I don't know if it was a good choice.  Hell, it might have done the most harm in the long run. But on Friday, my love of soil won out, and I've had to make peace with my decision.

Reader, achieving inner peace is getting harder and harder the more we learn.  I'm a white woman, likely the descendant of Europeans who displaced Native Americans to be here. I built my restaurant with materials from places where I'm not certain how they treat their employees.  I opened a restaurant in a largely black community, and I don't know how to be an ally here without looking like a white savior.  I clean dishes with chemicals that will harm waterways, wrap foods in plastic that will never break down, and make mountains of trash every week, despite paying for recycling services.

So how can I be good?

I've come to the decision that I can't.  I cannot exist causing zero harm.  The only thing I can do is continue to try to make informed and responsible decisions.  That's all I can control: whether or not I will ceaselessly try to make good decisions.

After my supermarket meltdown, I walked back into my restaurant and took this picture. Staff was happy.  Diners were happy.  And the place felt peaceful.  I took a few deep breaths, put my cheese in the cooler, and got back to work.  Sometimes, I think that's all we can do.  Get back to work.

I'll see you next Monday. -Em

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