In case you didn’t know, several major league baseball stadiums offer “all-you-can-eat” tickets that give fans access to a buffet for the duration of the game. Last summer, Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer advocate, wrote a letter to the baseball commissioner criticizing him for offering such a service despite his public pledge to support Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.
What I love most about Ralph Nader is not just his advocacy work–in the world of nutrition he’s made strides in outlawing harmful food dyes and improving the quality of processed meats–but most importantly, the important life lesson I learned from him this week. Let me explain…
Almost a year and a half ago, I presented some of my research at a conference. After my presentation a doctor from the audience came up to me, congratulated me on my work, and proceeded to explain how the University could likely get sued because of my work. Nevertheless, he explained that a lawsuit wouldn’t be a bad thing, and that I shouldn’t worry, because a lawsuit will end up being great for my career. Despite his reassurance, I have to admit, I’m concerned about this. As a matter of fact, the threat of such an occurrence is constantly in my mind when I’m making decisions about what to analyze and how to present my data.
So where does Ralph Nader fit into all of this? Well, I found that he had an interesting experience with this sort of thing early in his career. And to my surprise, he managed to take a bad situation and turn it into something great. Here’s what happened:
In 1965, Ralph Nader published a landmark book called “Unsafe at Any Speed” where he exposed the auto industry for its unsafe practices. In response, the industry retaliated by trying to ruin him. They hired private detectives to follow him and even hired prostitutes to try to lure him into a scandal. So what did Nader do? He sued them for invasion of privacy. Not only did he win the case, he used the money to start his first advocacy organization.
In conclusion, I was immensely inspired by this story because it taught me to be a little less worried about the backlash that can result from one’s work, in the end, it will all work out.
I learned about this fact from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader