“Discourse and Devotional” is a new weekly series in which Conor Hilton responds to the devotional address giving an analytical review. There will be elements of personal response, questions provoked, perhaps challenges to the content presented, etc.
Andrea Thomas, who happens to be the Senior VP of Marketing for Walmart and a BYU alumna, gave a remarkably devotional-esque forum address. She quoted from uniquely LDS scripture and had strong spiritual elements running throughout her speech.
The address fell plague to a concern that Thomas raised herself—that of showing up and simply being a ‘warm body’ (even more apt given the recent film entitled Warm Bodies about zombies). The remarks were flat and more or less lifeless. There was a heart beating in there somewhere, but she never quite found her love to raise the speech from the (un)dead.
While forged in good intentions, her remarks rang hollow. Ms. Thomas spoke on how each of us can make a difference in the world. I had hoped that some novel or insightful perspective would be shared in response to this question. However, the solutions she suggested were unsurprising: (1) make the world bigger, (2) act, rather than think and talk, (3) have passion and courage, and (4) give your best effort every single day.
Now, I am not suggesting that such advice is not worthy of following, simply that it is readily available from countless other forums and has been said and re-said. Again, the repetitive, clichéd nature of the address added to the overall feel that the speech was a zombie, Warm Bodies style (not fast or dangerous or exciting, simply lumbering around aimlessly).
To her credit, Ms. Thomas shared a series of anecdotes that helped shape her opinions and how she believes that others can make a difference in the world. Her personal anecdotes are the bits of life-blood in the address.
One of the anecdotes discussed the poaching of elephants and farmers, something that evoked images of the Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips and the sympathetic portrayal of Somali pirates having no other options to make a living. There is some question of the actual benefit that Walmart brings to such situations and deserves more investigation and critical thinking than time allows me to perform now.
Good intentions paved the planning of Ms. Thomas’ address, but we all know where that road leads… Here are some questions to ask ourselves as we consider the ideas and thoughts of Andrea Thomas.
- How long do you follow a passion and fail before changing course?
- How much should you know before forming opinions?
- How do you balance acting and learning?
- If travel is not an option, how do you best ‘make your world bigger’?
- Why do we insist on perpetuating such fluffy, lifeless (i.e. zombie-like) ideas with speeches such as this?