Today’s guest blogger is Amy Courts. Self-described as a friend of Jesus. A maker-upper of songs. A singer of said songs on stages e’er’where. Paul’s wife. Elijah’s mom. Matt’s stepmom. An obsessive runner. Acholi at heart. Amy has great things to say on consumerism as we approach the Holidays. Here at 31:20, we are gearing up for the Shop Once, Give Twice Christmas Marketplace in two weeks, focusing on bringing high-quality items to Denver that are 100% fair trade and that support women, children, and communities around the world. I challenge everyone to read Amy’s post and make your holiday shopping as “slave-free” as possible. And don’t forget to shop theMarketplace December 6-8th!
I’ve seen a blog floating around proclaiming that those who shop on Thanksgiving Thursday “are part the problem.”
I agree. Whole-heartedly.
But the idea that we can separate Thursday from Black Friday (or the rest of Consumer-mas Season) is absurd to me.
Because in both cases, we’re not merely interrupting the holidays of our friends who now have to work instead of eat more turkey; and we’re not merely contributing to and bolstering a wholly consumerist culture. No, in any case – whether shopping on Thursday, Friday, or throughout the month for red hot deals and steals from standard retailers – we’re contributing to the global slave trade. We’re burying our heads in the sand and pretending that Wal-Mart and Target employees, who definitely warrant our holiday consideration, are the only ones who warrant consideration in this sordid tale of stuff hoarding, all in celebration of the Sweet Baby Jesus.
Even when we bypass Thursday’s sales “on principal” and shop Black Friday instead, we’re almost certainly purchasing things produced by slaves around the world.
I cannot emphasize this enough: If we’re shopping for deals and steals, demanding cheaper stuff, we’re not shopping with a conscience.
I was accused once already today of basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and missing how God can redeem evil consumerism for His good. When we give toys to needy children, it’s a small redemption. When we teach our own kids, in practice, that it’s better to give than receive, it’s a small redemption.
Again, I agree whole-heartedly.
But small redemptions can’t cost the lives and hours of slaves around the world.
I learned last week that based on what I typically buy throughout the year – from makeup to clothes to running shoes to food to gifts – 57 slaves work for me.
**Fifty Seven Slaves Work For Me.**
With that fact still sinking into my mind, I’m duly convicted (and convinced) that if I’m not ethically sourcing the gifts I’m giving not just to my own kids but to toy drives, etc., then I’m still part of the problem…whether or not I participate in Thursday’s or Black Friday’s sales.
Our consumerist culture that demands lots of cheap goods at deep discounts, in order that we can “give the most with the money we have” (or, too often, the money we don’t have) doesn’t just roll out over our next-door neighbors.
When we shop Thursday and Black Friday and Amazon’s Week of Crazy Deals (or whatever it is), we’re not just devaluing the lives and family time of the guys who have to leave their families on Thanksgiving day. We’re saying the slave who made the product isn’t worth our consideration.
So, if I may humbly suggest some more considerate, ethical alternatives:
1) Shop Small Business Saturday, and stay within a 10 mile radius of your own home. Buy from your friends who’ve got stores up on Etsy. Encourage those same friends to ethically source the materials for the awesome goods they’re selling.
2) Instead of buying a cart load of gifts for each of your kids, check out your local Fair Trade retailer and buy them each one awesome gift, made by a kid their age in another country, whose life depends on your shopping patterns.
3) Instead of throwing away cash on stuff you don’t need that’s made by slaves, give a chunk of change to Typhoon or Tornado relief efforts.
4) Check out WorldVision or Compassion International, and instead of buying a thing for your kids, let each of them choose a child to sponsor and exchange letters with throughout the year.
5) If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase higher-priced goods, shop at thrift stores like The Salvation Army, or forego shopping altogether. Cheaper prices mean cheaper lives.
It takes effort. It takes serious diligence to know where your goods are coming from; maybe even more intention to care enough to change it and reduce our slavery footprint.
But I believe it’s worth it. Moreso, I believe it’s crucial to living Disciple lives.
Some other good stuff to check out, while you’re at it (because my thoughts are hardly original)
:>>The Slavery Footprint That Makes Me Cringe and Cry and Consider More Than Thursday:http://slaveryfootprint.org/>>
The Message On Christian Consumerism That Made Me Want to Get Out of the Mouse House: http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermon/lab-rats-no-longer>>
The Blog That Started It All For Me: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/29/the-christmas-conundrum#.UoKguGduoOA.facebook
- Amy Courts