Tag Archives: all-one

What’s the magic in Dr. Bronner’s soap?

“We are ALL-ONE or NONE!  ALL-ONE!  ALL-ONE!” chants Dr. Bronner into a cassette recorder, over-top of a Strauss waltz, pounding his palm on a wooden desk to the syncopated beat of his saying… “ALL-ONE, ALL-ONE, ALL-ONE.”

Slightly crazy, blind and charismatic, Dr. Bronner, a 7-th generation soap-maker and German Jewish immigrant produced one amazing product and used that product to advertise his moral imperative to millions of people.  If you’ve every used Dr. Bronner’s soap, you’d recognize the overzealous 8-font type that lines each bottle.   His main slogan, “All-One,” is borrowed from the Shema Yisrael, a Torah passage that reads, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”   My interpretation is that we all live in the world together, and have the opportunity to love and respect all people and animals and microbes!

Tonight we watched a documentary film about his life, his soap, and his family, which is a complete whirl-wind adventure into the mind of an outsider artist in the highest degree.   A very entertaining film that will probably keep us buying this soap for years to come.  They have a 5:1 salary cap for all vested employees, donate 75% of net, post-production revenue to charities, and are  probably the first  company to produce 100% organic, fair-trade cosmetics.  I found it impressive that they buy fair-trade olive oil from  Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, and Christian Israelis all living in a 10 mi radius of each other– as an example of the commonality and aspirations all people share.

Sometimes the idea of corporate responsibility scares me, because it implies that if not said explicitly that corporations are free to act irresponsibly.  In Dr. Bronner’s case, his life-work and the common thread of their company is living responsibly with the world, which a worthy cause to support.