Finding gratitude in this summer’s Market Basket situation

Lake Willoughby, Vermont Duck Photo by Elodie Reed

Lake Willoughby, Vermont Duck Photo by Elodie Reed

Mr. Don Alusic, from Amherst, NH, recently published this piece in the Nashua Telegraph.

In New England this summer, we experienced a period of economic disruption unlike anything that has happened in recent years. As we return to things as usual, I would like to acknowledge what I consider to be the presence of the Divine or God in the harmonious outcome.

As I expect you recall, when one board member of the Market Basket board had a change of heart, this allowed one of the two long-feuding cousins, Arthur S., to remove the other cousin, Arthur T. (also known at Artie T.), as CEO of the chain of 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine with around 25,000 employees and reportedly $4.6 billion in sales in 2013.

A massive revolt by store employees and customers followed that was ongoing after a month with no end in sight. Every store that I passed had 15-20 people standing on the edge of the busy road urging a boycott of the store unless the former CEO was reinstated. The stores resembled ghost towns, with few cars in the parking lots, few customers inside and greatly reduced stock on the shelves. Although I had never really shopped at Market Basket, in spite of strong urging by a number of my friends, I remember honking in support because it was easy to do as I drove by.

At one point, the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts wrote a joint letter to the board imploring for a return of “economic peace.” This was a call to action for me, and I started praying for peace in this situation.

It started with turning to the Bible and the first chapter of Genesis, where it affirms that God created the entire universe and everything in it, including man. Then “God saw every thing that he had made and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Next, I considered the Lord’s Prayer, where it states, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In my view, this heaven is the very good creation from Genesis.

I also thought about a statement from Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, who states, “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ – obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 279). This conflict at Market Basket appeared to have many elements of strife, such as long-standing grudges, revenge, discord and acrimony. I held to the idea that God was the only power operating in this situation in spite of the appearance otherwise.

The disruption continued another week. Then, it was announced that a deal had been reached for Artie T. to buy the outstanding shares of stock and return as CEO. This lead to great rejoicing on the part of customers and employees.

In a speech to a number of his employees at the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., Artie T. said, “Seeing you all here today is like seeing little piece of heaven on earth,” which struck an immediate chord with my prayer. He added, “And not a Greek tragedy!” or human actions leading to an unhappy or unfortunate ending.

This is indeed where it was headed, as bankruptcy and the complete disappearance of the company seemed like the only other viable option. I would like to add my gratitude and rejoicing for the harmonious outcome of this situation. As a result, I have now joined the legion of happy and loyal Market Basket shoppers.

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