Yesterday, The New York Times reported on the evolving focus of Save the Children:
Over the last year, Save the Children emerged as a leader in the push to tax sweetened soft drinks as a way to combat childhood obesity…. At the same time, executives at Save the Children were seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola to help finance the health and education programs that the charity conducts here and abroad, including its work on childhood obesity…. In October, Save the Children surprised activists around the country with an e-mail message announcing that it would no longer support efforts to tax soft drinks…. In interviews this month, Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer of Save the Children, said there was no connection between the group’s about-face on soda taxes and the discussions with Coke. A $5 million grant from PepsiCo also had no influence on the decision, she said. Both companies fiercely oppose soda taxes.
Changing your mind is not necessarily derisible “flip-flopping.” You should change your mind if new data comes to light. Moreover, our children certainly need saving, and I suspect the good people at Save the Children have noble intentions. Nevertheless, isn’t the act of seeking funding from Coke and Pepsi a betrayal of their original goal?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed this temptation in a 1967 Christmas Eve sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church:
Ends and means must cohere…. [T]here have always been those who argued that the end justifies the means, that the means really aren’t important. The important thing is to get to the end, you see. So, if you’re seeking to develop a just society, they say, the important thing is to get there, and the means are really unimportant; any means will do so long as they get you there? They may be violent, they may be untruthful means; they may even be unjust means to a just end. There have been those who have argued this throughout history. But we will never have peace in the world until [humans] everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.
Science tell us that the causes of obesity are complex, and we live in a complicated world that requires juggling multiple allegiances. At the same time, we must save the children, not only from poverty and obesity, but also for lives of integrity and truth.