Shopping Cart Theology

Over time I’ve built up a fair amount of shorthand. This isn’t useful when starting up a new blog, as people don’t necessarily know what the heck I’m on about. But since I’ve done a post covering the hoeing of the onions, now: shopping carts.

You know how shopping carts work, of course. Racks of them stacked up around the entrances of stores, and you can take one and go do your shopping without having to carry everything in your hands, and then when you’re done, the shopping cart goes back in the rack.

And if everyone does it that way, it goes great. The system is self-sustaining with a minimum of effort. There are always carts available at the front, everyone gets what they need, and it’s all generally good.

But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t always get done that way.

The shopping carts don’t always get put back in the rack.

Sometimes, they get shoved in the vague direction of the rack, leading to heaps of disorganised carts spilling every which way. Or the inefficiently stacked carts spilling out into the traffic ways because things weren’t all pushed together.

Sometimes it’s not even that good, and carts are left in parking spaces, drift into traffic, are shoved up in among the bushes, or are wedged between cars and make it difficult to open doors or otherwise do things.

I’m not saying that there isn’t sufficient reason for this to happen sometimes. I live in New England, and here is a truth of living in New England: the cart-put-away racks don’t get plowed. Even if the snow gets partially cleared out, there’s often a lot of ice around there that makes it a bit iffy. Sometimes people are running late. Sometimes it’s inappropriate to leave the kids unsupervised in the car for even the minute it takes to get the cart put away. These things happen, right?

And different places have different ways of moderating how frequently those things happen. A lot of grocery stores around here have a worker running around and collecting the shopping carts every so often and bringing them back to the return. Some have a setup where to get a shopping cart you have to insert a coin into the locking mechanism, and then when you return it, pop, out comes the coin. (But that is certainly not foolproof; I’ve heard of people making enough money for a meal finding and returning coin-locked shopping carts.)

But the system really works best with the ideal: each person who uses a cart returns the cart. This is a comparatively small amount of effort for each person, after all. And when all carts are returned, then there are no carts in parking spaces; there are no carts drifting into traffic; there are no problems finding a cart rather than discovering that they are all in use or in the back distant reaches of the parking lot instead. In short, that one little bit of effort not only keeps the entire system running smoothly, but saves, in the grand scheme of things, a much larger cost in aggravation and annoyance, especially since that cart in the parking space is going to annoy everyone who comes by until someone is there who has a passenger who can go move the thing or is willing to put their hazards on and move it themselves so they can park there.

We acknowledge the ideal system: each person puts their cart away.

We also acknowledge that the system is not ideal. We return our cart anyway. We may also grab an abandoned cart and pop it into the return on the way back with our own. We may straighten a mass of carts so that we can get our own in place. We may find that there are subsidiary cart returns in the far reaches of the parking lot where we can return ours (or find one to pop the kids into when we’re parked in the back end of beyond) rather than having to schlep all the way back to the storefront. We may support the hiring of a cart-fetching worker who collects abandons and occasionally empties out the subsidiary returns back to the front of the store to maintain the proper cart balance. We may choose to use carts that reward proper returns. All of these choices and actions bring the system closer to the ideal state, in which all carts are either in use or put away, causing peril and aggravation to none.

In short: we may follow many paths towards upholding ma’at. We get our choice.

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21 thoughts on “Shopping Cart Theology

  1. […] I feel like this post, this post, and this post are much more eloquently written expressions of a lot of what I’m experiencing and feeling […]

  2. […] I rather like the summarised Shopping Cart metaphor, originally written by Darkhawk. It’s a great way to think of how Ma’at works realistically. If you’re not […]

  3. […] people think that living in ma’at means that we should put the shopping carts away. This isn’t so bad of a concept either. It means everything is orderly. It means that everyone […]

  4. […] people think that living in ma’at means that we should put the shopping carts away. This isn’t so bad of a concept either. It means everything is orderly. It means that everyone […]

  5. […] is why shopping cart theology makes sense for us as modern Kemetics.  We do what we can do to keep the system running.  We feed […]

  6. […] live within ma’at, or bring it into their daily life. In this post, she stated that the Shopping Cart Theology was useful for some, but not for her. This then sparked a response post and a host of comments on […]

  7. […] I think Ma’at is also about making yourself a better person. Remembering that you are important, too! Yes, you should be kind to others–but we should also set limits and rules for ourselves. We should always be looking for ways to open our minds, become more learned, and strengthen our spirits. We should love ourselves, but we need to push ourselves. We are the ones who must decide for ourselves what our hearts whisper and how best to enact those whispers. We must discover our own actual limits. We must objectively come to see our own potential, and push ourselves to become ever better. Don’t give yourself excuses. When you know what you value and what you desire, achieve. Do not berate yourself because of or be embarrassed by failure. But don’t forget to reflect on your failure and improve your methodology. Learn to love yourself while also maintaining a sense of humility and ambition to improve yourself and the world. Whether that means fighting for the rights of a people or simply putting the shopping carts where they belong (https://peacefulawakenings.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/shopping-cart-theology/) […]

  8. […] is Orthopraxic. In it, she described her thoughts and feelings regarding Kiya Nicholl’s Shopping Cart Theology, and how she felt it didn’t work for her. She was trying to rationalize how ma’at works […]

  9. […] so that I’ve been able to come to terms with why I have issues, specifically, with the shopping cart theology and what I actually think ma’at, and therefore living in it, may just […]

  10. […] or decisions where we are forced to pick the lesser of two evils. There’s an infamous shopping cart theory out there in regards to how we should approach the concept of Ma’at and making the best […]

  11. […] have Kemetic friends who talk about upholding Ma’at. Though it’s not the same concept, the Xartus has some things in common with it. We help […]

  12. […] Fight chaos, restore order. – Okay, chaos has it’s place. But my role is focused more on organization. That means trying to keep my home neat, systematizing things, and putting away the shopping carts. […]

  13. […] the world through in a variety of ways – charitable giving, care for my friends, adhering to Shopping Cart Theology – that my Bright Flame be able to grow.  In addition, I try to remain polite and helpful […]

  14. […] Putting the shopping carts away […]

  15. […] ice from drain grates, offering water to your neighbour who has frozen pipes, or putting away your shopping carts. I really want to try cultivating this in the coming year, as I try to interact more with my local […]

  16. […] order to live up to, but at the same time, even the smallest actions can contribute to it, like putting the shopping carts away. It encompasses the good of the community- the macrocosmic community down to the individual- in a […]

  17. […] blogger, Kiya, over at Peaceful Awakenings, wrote a blog about “shopping cart theology.”  It’s all about the ideal situation where everyone who uses a shopping cart returns […]

  18. […] live within ma’at, or bring it into their daily life. In this post, she stated that the Shopping Cart Theology was useful for some, but not for her. This then sparked a response post and a host of comments on […]

  19. […] order to live up to, but at the same time, even the smallest actions can contribute to it, like putting the shopping carts away. It encompasses the good of the community- the macrocosmic community down to the individual- in a […]

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