Competing for Toilet Paper and Racism (EP. 216)

Toilet Paper


Both are born of ignorance, fear and a desire to be one up on, to be superior to, our fellow human beings. 

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 


Most of us have seen photos and videos of people wrestling over packages of toilet paper–some even actually fighting over them. And all of us have seen stills and videos where racism shows it’s ugly head. Is there really a connection? If so, Will, what is it?

Let’s take a look at some of the facts and motivations behind these activities. On average, one person goes through two rolls, at most, of toilet paper in a month. That means that one 30-roll Costco bundle would last 15 months. To the best of my knowledge, no one has run out of TP. If they had, one or more news outlets would have featured this “human suffering.” So, why do people fight over something where there is no pressing need at all? Here is a list of the reasons:

  • Overnight TP went from being a joke product, an item that was occasionally used to decorate the homes of parents of teenagers, to a well-publicized, artificially scarce item. People who can’t compete for scarce items like luxury vacations and second homes, suddenly found an arena in which they could excel. “By golly, I may not be Michael Bloomberg, but at least I have 75 rolls of toilet paper and counting. Do you? Huh?”
  • Herd mentality. AKA mob thinking. Put fairly normal people in a crowd, and they will act differently. They will get happily more carried away in person at a football game than in the car while listening on the radio. Put them in a frenzied political rally, and they will angrily join the crowd in shouting slogans they would not yell out loud when reading the political section of a newspaper. 
  • Belief that life is a zero sum game. This belief holds that for someone else to have more, you must have less. Conversely, for you to have more, someone else must have less. Apply this false belief to TP, and you will want to get yours before someone else takes it from you. That is true about a single pizza, but not about life. But even with pizza, there is virtually an unlimited supply. As with toilet paper. It’s the thinking that is wrong.
  • Ignorance and fear. That’s one heck of a combination. The less people educate themselves about COVID-19, the more fearful they will be. And the more likely they will be to take ignorant refuge in actions like hoarding toilet paper. Even if they have to take on other people to get it. And it is the individual’s responsibility to enlighten themselves so that their own ignorance is never an issue. 

Now to apply these traits to racism:

  • “By golly, I may not be Michael Bloomberg, but at least I am better than these colored people.” Take careful note that belittling others does not make that person or groups any better. This reflects the belief that breaking up someone else’s furniture will make yours better. No one on earth would ever believe that about furniture, how on earth can they believe that when applied to people? This kind of dangerous thinking is what can make seemingly rational people take stupid, selfish and dangers actions. Like thinking and acting like a racist.
  • Herd mentality. AKA a coward’s mentality. Yes, a coward. How many KKK members would have burned crosses and lynched “undesirables” if they had to take those actions alone? There would have been no herd to pump each other up, no crowd to use hate as a way to cloud minds and use adrenaline for evil. And even if motivated internally by one’s own hate alone, would they go out solo to perpetrate their evil, knowing that they might be overwhelmed by a few of their intended victims? Oh, BTW, how many Antifa members would go out and do their violent thing either solo or without their masks (hoods)?
  • Belief that life is a zero sum game. Related to the broken furniture thinking. Burning someone else’s home makes yours better. Killing someone’s father makes your family better. Degrading another ethnicity makes yours stronger and better. All human evil, especially that on a large scale, depends upon making the other group or groups less than human, while simultaneously making your group greater. Using the pizza example, steal a slice of their humanity and add it to yours. In this false zero sum world, that makes them lesser, and you greater. Only then is it possible to justify wrongful actions. Maybe even make these wrongful actions sound righteous and patriotic.
  • Ignorance and fear. Perhaps the core of it all. As one hand washes the other (Didn’t I have to get hand washing in here somehow?), ignorance and fear feed each other. And, as always, it is the individual’s responsibility to enlighten themselves so that their own ignorance is never an issue. 

Today’s Key Point: Pause ever so briefly before taking any significant action. Ask, “Is this action reasonable, is this who I am?” When reacting to frustrating family and friends. When dealing with corona restrictions. Perhaps even when buying toilet paper. But you will need a moral compass as your guide. 

What is your moral compass? I–and others–would like to know. Please share. 


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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