The real problem with Nike's new slogan

"Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything."

Because Nike said so?  Suicide bombers believe.  They sacrifice everything.  Stalin believed.  He sacrificed millions.

Which of them will be Nike's next spokesperson?

Nike's release of its new slogan falls on the 30th anniversary of "Just Do It."  Across three decades, that phrase grew beyond slogan to a cultural rallying cry.  It defined machismo for those very special men and women, above and beyond any need for rules, willing to live with a "full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes" zest for life.

Or at least for those willing to buy overpriced sneakers and T-shirts.

Nike expends tremendous amounts of time, energy, and dollars on developing and deploying such slogans.  Truly, they are themselves nothing more than mini-commercials hoping to make the Super Bowl of advertising and guarantee rich rewards both for the marketing firm and its client.

Or are they?

Whether they sell political campaigns or T-shirts, the Twitter-deep bumper-sticker solutions to some of life's most profound issues speak volumes not just about who we are as a people, but about how far short we have fallen as a nation.  As is often the case, it is the words not spoken that speak the loudest.

The success of Just Do It happened not by accident, but because of the crystal clear, widely embraced understanding of it that resonates in the hearts of those who hear it.  What is that unspoken understanding?  What do such beliefs sound like when we give voice to the unasked questions?  Question: Just do what?  Answer: Whatever I want.  Question: To whom?  Answer: Any who dare stand against me.  Question: Why?  Answer: Because I want, and I am powerful.

Life is, after all, all about me.  Right?

Does anyone believe that instead of "Just Do It," the slogan "Just Do Right" would even have been presented to, much less invested in by, Nike 30 years ago?

Just Do It has reigned virtually unchallenged as one of the great marketing coups for three decades.  Its message goes far beyond a corporate marketing decision.  Those three words became a reflection of who we are and a powerful influence on who we were to become as a people.

What of Nike's newest offering on the altar of an increasingly unbelieving nation?  "Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything."  The underlying presupposition by which this slogan gains its acceptance and momentum is similar to its predecessor.  Believe in unicorns, perhaps?  Of course not.  Even without the current controversy over the spokesperson, "Believe" ignites a fire within our culture because we all know what it means:  believe in yourself.  Let reality, truth, and the rest of the world be damned.

Life is, after all, all about you.  Right?

Extolling "belief" without naming that in which the belief resides is as at best nonsensical.  Belief rises above and beyond opinion only when it reflects the truth of reality.  Belief does not alter reality.  Two plus two does not now, nor will it ever, equal six, no matter how enthusiastically or how many people believe it.  Ultimately, belief is a commitment to the truth of something.  For it to be really meaningful, it must express commitment to a significant truth.

Belief surpasses opinion when it reflects a standard, a truth outside, above, and beyond our personal feelings.  It is against such truths that beliefs are measured – to these truths we are subject, and under their authority we reside.

What is the source of truth that forms the basis for what you believe?

It is sad to see how far a nation whose founders formed it to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and professes "In God We Trust" has fallen, that fall due in large part to the fact that we replaced our commitment to belief in truth with agenda driven by mere opinion.

Like passion, belief is a mechanism, a vehicle that drives us to a destination.  The question before us is, when we arrive at our journey's final destination, where opinion will give way to truth, will we find ourselves at truth or consequences?

The question for Nike is, why not a slogan that will sell T-shirts not by inciting controversy, but by promoting universal truth?  What do you say, Nike?  See what you think of this slogan: "Fear God…and nothing else!"

Mike Kirkwood has authored What if…, a collection of short works, and Fathers, a novel about how we got where we are today in America.  Both are available at Amazon.com.

"Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything."

Because Nike said so?  Suicide bombers believe.  They sacrifice everything.  Stalin believed.  He sacrificed millions.

Which of them will be Nike's next spokesperson?

Nike's release of its new slogan falls on the 30th anniversary of "Just Do It."  Across three decades, that phrase grew beyond slogan to a cultural rallying cry.  It defined machismo for those very special men and women, above and beyond any need for rules, willing to live with a "full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes" zest for life.

Or at least for those willing to buy overpriced sneakers and T-shirts.

Nike expends tremendous amounts of time, energy, and dollars on developing and deploying such slogans.  Truly, they are themselves nothing more than mini-commercials hoping to make the Super Bowl of advertising and guarantee rich rewards both for the marketing firm and its client.

Or are they?

Whether they sell political campaigns or T-shirts, the Twitter-deep bumper-sticker solutions to some of life's most profound issues speak volumes not just about who we are as a people, but about how far short we have fallen as a nation.  As is often the case, it is the words not spoken that speak the loudest.

The success of Just Do It happened not by accident, but because of the crystal clear, widely embraced understanding of it that resonates in the hearts of those who hear it.  What is that unspoken understanding?  What do such beliefs sound like when we give voice to the unasked questions?  Question: Just do what?  Answer: Whatever I want.  Question: To whom?  Answer: Any who dare stand against me.  Question: Why?  Answer: Because I want, and I am powerful.

Life is, after all, all about me.  Right?

Does anyone believe that instead of "Just Do It," the slogan "Just Do Right" would even have been presented to, much less invested in by, Nike 30 years ago?

Just Do It has reigned virtually unchallenged as one of the great marketing coups for three decades.  Its message goes far beyond a corporate marketing decision.  Those three words became a reflection of who we are and a powerful influence on who we were to become as a people.

What of Nike's newest offering on the altar of an increasingly unbelieving nation?  "Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything."  The underlying presupposition by which this slogan gains its acceptance and momentum is similar to its predecessor.  Believe in unicorns, perhaps?  Of course not.  Even without the current controversy over the spokesperson, "Believe" ignites a fire within our culture because we all know what it means:  believe in yourself.  Let reality, truth, and the rest of the world be damned.

Life is, after all, all about you.  Right?

Extolling "belief" without naming that in which the belief resides is as at best nonsensical.  Belief rises above and beyond opinion only when it reflects the truth of reality.  Belief does not alter reality.  Two plus two does not now, nor will it ever, equal six, no matter how enthusiastically or how many people believe it.  Ultimately, belief is a commitment to the truth of something.  For it to be really meaningful, it must express commitment to a significant truth.

Belief surpasses opinion when it reflects a standard, a truth outside, above, and beyond our personal feelings.  It is against such truths that beliefs are measured – to these truths we are subject, and under their authority we reside.

What is the source of truth that forms the basis for what you believe?

It is sad to see how far a nation whose founders formed it to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and professes "In God We Trust" has fallen, that fall due in large part to the fact that we replaced our commitment to belief in truth with agenda driven by mere opinion.

Like passion, belief is a mechanism, a vehicle that drives us to a destination.  The question before us is, when we arrive at our journey's final destination, where opinion will give way to truth, will we find ourselves at truth or consequences?

The question for Nike is, why not a slogan that will sell T-shirts not by inciting controversy, but by promoting universal truth?  What do you say, Nike?  See what you think of this slogan: "Fear God…and nothing else!"

Mike Kirkwood has authored What if…, a collection of short works, and Fathers, a novel about how we got where we are today in America.  Both are available at Amazon.com.