Tag Archives: labels

Now add more exclamation points!!!

29 Jan

When you shop at the eco-conscious grocery store, you end up with strange items in your cabinet. Take, for example, Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste. Do you see all that little writing on the label? Those are the ravings of a madman.

I was so taken by the… um, enthusiasm of Emanuel Bronner that I went to their corporate website to find out why he felt the need to write his manifesto on a tube of toothpaste. Turns out he was a pre-hippie beatnik who decided to change the world by creating products (starting with soap, because he was a soapmaker) that were free of those evil ingredients.

Fair enough – I’m always inspired by people who believe they can change the world and do, albeit in a small way. However, he never lost those counterculture beliefs, which means someone else had to be doing the books all that time. Let me read to you from Bronner’s toothpaste tube, near the tip:

Zoroaster, the great Asian teacher some 6,000 years back! “He who seeds God’s soil with good seed by loving toil, reaps greater merit-wisdom-progress-freedom-happiness & health than he who writes 180 books, repeats 99 prayers, or sits 100 years in mediation! Exceptions? Absolute none! Confucius, Israel, Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, the type of hardworking men with whom civilization began!

First off, that’s a lot of exclamation points. Second, my guess is that that quote is the only Zoroaster he ever read. Third, Jesus was the opposite of hardworking. He was willing to sacrifice a lot to provide for the preaching of the Word, but his time in the carpenter shed doesn’t make the Gospels.

Now Dr. Brunner (no actual degree, just started calling himself that, and with his German accent, no one disagreed) actually started preaching in Pershing Square, Los Angeles, back in 1950 and sold the peppermint soap on the side. Well, if they don’t buy your preaching, they can read it on the label. And if you can interpret the true meaning of this gem, you’re on the way to enlightenment:

7th: Each swallow works hard to be a perfect pilot-provider-builder-trainer-teacher-lover-mate, no half-true-hate! Have courage & smile, my friend. Think & act 10 years ahead!

Unfortunately, his enthusiasm got in the way of his message, but I find that to be the case of many philosophers. I tried to read Beyond Good and Evil by Fredrich Nietzsche and every chapter sounded like this. Twenty pages of “This is so important! And those other philosophers, they got it wrong–why can’t they see the truth!” without actually giving the nugget he’s excited about. Then at the end of the chapter, finally says something cool like “We are brothers of solitude. Of our midday, most midnight solitude.”

This wasn’t just Nietzsche–my wife encouraged me to read Wasase by Taiaiake Alfred–which is his vision for a non-violent warrior movement to grant Native Americans (or in his case, First Nations) true independence. I read his doctoral dissertation and found it very cool. This book, though… I got about 20 pages through “decolonize” this and “patriarchy” that I realized that he suffered from the same problem. SUPER excited and can’t bring himself to actually TELL US WHAT THE COOL THING IS! I guess if they just went to the cool thing, it would be a pamphlet, and he couldn’t sell it for $20 a pop.

Have you had any luck grokking philosophy? Are the words of the prophets written on the subway walls? Share your story in the comments below!

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