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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thief, Slaveholder, Murderer

For July's challenge, I had originally intended to do a series on saving money or exercising or something. I felt like I didn't need to do anything too challenging, being that I just had a baby and all.

But then I got convicted, and I have a confession to make to you.

I am a thief, a slaveholder, and a murderer.

I wasn't convicted in a court, it goes much higher than that. I was convicted by that still, small voice that says "You can't live like you don't know this. You can't ignore how serious this is anymore."

Why do I carry this weight? Why do I believe these things about myself? Well, let me walk you through it.

Thief


I have a closet full of clothes, and people are freezing to death every winter. I even have more than one winter coat. I live in south Louisiana, one is more than enough.

I have a fridge and pantry loaded with food. Not only that, if I don't like what I have or I don't feel like cooking, I just go out to a restaurant and pay someone else to do the work for me and I have a whole menu to choose from.
Meanwhile, people are starving to death. Mothers in other countries will have to choose which one of her children will get to eat today.


How, as a Christian, am I able to live like this?

Slaveholder


I know that the tomato products I buy to make our favorite spaghetti and pizza are very likely grown and harvested by slaves or something close to it, yet I think it's ok to keep supporting this industry because giving these products up would be too difficult. It's not just tomatoes either, I know that it goes much further than that.

I know that it's highly likely that the clothes I buy are not ethically produced. I know, and have known for years, that it's very common for factory workers overseas (and sometimes here) to work 15-20 hour shifts in unsafe environments for as little as 6 cents an hour. Yet, I continue to support this industry.

I even know that the toys and clothes I buy for my children were potentially made by workers who are children themselves. Often these children are sold to factory owners because their families are starving, and these child slaves are watched by guards and sometimes beaten for working too slow.

I know these things, and I continue to support the industry with my money. I am a mother, and I still give money to support child labor. I'm disgusted with myself.

Murderer


I said this already, but people all over the world are starving to death, and I continue to live in extravagance.

I don't know if you caught the gravity of this, but it rips my heart out and I'm going to say it again, and I want you sit and dwell on it before you read on -

Mothers in other countries will have to choose which child gets to eat today.


People are freezing to death because they don't have warm clothing, and my problem is that all of my coats are taking up too much room in my closet.

Families are dying because the only water they have available is plagued with parasites, and I am concerned that the abundant, treated water flowing from my tap might be unsafe.

I have a nice sized savings account and a decadent lifestyle and I'm not willing to share.

The truth is, if I take a broader view of it and look outside the borders of my nation, I am the one percent. I live extravagantly while my brothers and sisters overseas are dying of need.


So, I've told you the crimes I've been convicted of. What is my sentence?


My sentence is to stop ignoring these hard facts and start living out these difficult truths.

Beyond that, my sentence is to swallow any pride or fear that I may have over being labeled abnormal or radical.

My sentence is to confess these crimes to anyone who is willing to listen and ask them to come alongside me in my journey to recovery from this life of crime.

How, in God's name, am I going to do it?


This is where I am stuck. I've been living this way so long, I don't know how to live a life free of these crimes.

The part that makes me really angry is that I grew up in the church, I grew up in a Christian family, and I still don't know how to stop stealing, killing, and destroying.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame my family, nor my pastors, because they are like me. They were raised without being taught how or why not to do these things, either. Somewhere along the lines, the church decided it was more important to keep the government in line than to be a voice for the oppressed and starving.

I AM NOT OK WITH THIS.

Again, how am I going to do this?


This has been on my heart for a while. Years actually. It's been growing lately, and I had originally intended to wait until I had some heart wrenching facts and some snazzy resources to show you. I was going to wait until I had a plan in place.

The thing is, there must not be as much money in reporting social injustice in mega companies as there is reporting on politics and war, so the resources are not that easy to find.

And I couldn't wait anymore to get this off of my chest.

I don't know anyone living a life free of these crimes, so I don't know how to change.

This is where you come in. If you are willing, I'd like for you to take on my sentencing.

I'm going to be dong some heavy researching on what companies are safe to support and which ones aren't. I'm going to try to restructure the way we shop and live so that I don't have to feel ashamed anymore.

I need your help, I need us to pool our resources and start a conversation and I need you to give me ideas on how to do this, because I'm scared.

I'm scared I will compromise. I'm scared I'll be afraid of looking too weird or that people will stop taking me seriously.

I don't want to live like this anymore, but I don't know how to stop.

You may think I'm being overdramatic, or taking too much of a burden on myself. I've made these excuses for myself, but what if it was my daughter or son starving to death? Freezing? Working long hours in a garment factory? It's someone's children, and that someone is no less of a person just because he or she is poor and very far away.

This post was shared at Mom's the Word, Homestead Barn Hop
, Works for Me Wednesdays, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Frugally Sustainable,


11 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about your post since I first read it. I completely understand (and relate to!) the feeling of not knowing where to start. That said, I think you start where you are.

    Pick your most versatile coat, and donate/give away the rest. Go through your summer clothes, separate them into clothes to keep and clothes to share. You can always do something like that in phases - after a few weeks, you can decide if you need to release more of what you've kept. :)

    Make it a goal to create one extra meal for the freezer each week, so that when you have a day that you 'can't make supper', you can pull that meal out. You could donate the $$ saved to a good cause. I know a lot of families who eat meatless part of the time and donate the money saved by doing so. I also know many gardeners who 'plant a row for the food pantry', meaning they grow a little extra to share with those in need.

    I guess what I'm thinking is that one person may not be able to fix it all, but each of us can do something. When we do that, we gain momentum, and we find new ways to align ourselves with God's will for our lives. The most important thing is to do something today. You can't do it all at once, but if you do something today, then you have begun.

    Blessings!
    -Laura at TenThingsFarm

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  2. This evening I have just finished written a blog story on forced labour (for next week) and then I find your piece. We have been thinking along the same line. It breaks my heart when I read of the millions of people in the world who are living in terrible conditions whilst we in the west complain about everything but lead a life of luxury.

    We give money to World Vision - both to support a young girl in Bangladesh and helping young girls who are victims of prostitution (caught up in the sex trade). There are many ways you can help, it just depends on what you want to do.

    Blessings.

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    1. I found this post via the Homestead Blog Hop. The more educated I become about how things are made and where they come from, the more things I change in my life, bit by bit. Something I started doing years ago is not eating tomatoes or tomato products out of season unless they are tomatoes I grew and preserved myself. It's hard to purposefully give something up that almost seems like a right to us Americans...but once you get accustomed to it, it becomes second nature. Baby steps!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I've been trying very hard for the last couple of years to make these same changes. It has been difficult getting any support from family and friends. Change is hard, I realize this, but when people ask why I do things a different way, they do NOT like the answers. The truth is that when you know about some of the terrible things that your money is supporting, you can't just "unlearn" it. People resent you sharing the truth because it makes them feel guilty about their own choices. My advice it to pick the issue closest to your heart and start there. Once your habits have changed, work on the next one. Forgive yourself if it doesn't always work out.

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  4. Thanks for the support and ideas, guys. Please keep sharing and learning with me. I'm learning that accountability is important in this journey!

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  5. Sarah, there is an app for the iPhone that tells you some restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores, etc...that sell products from other countries who support child labor or sex trafficking, etc... I can't remember what it's called, but you could research it I'm sure. Excellent post! These things have been on my heart as well, but like you said its so hard to figure out where to even begin!

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    1. Hmm...I'll have to look up that app. Glad you enjoyed my post!

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  6. where can I find info regarding the tomato products you mentioned? Have you founds a resource that list product brands and their origins? I'm searching. If my canned tomatoes say product of the USA, should that be a good sign? This makes me not want to go to the grocery store until I know more...I did find a good blog last night that has some really good info, but I can't find it now. It did mention this book though, I think I'm gonna order it: The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollar Makes a Difference. Its 9.95 on Amazon.

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    1. The article I read about the tomatos cited a book called "Tomatoland" by Barry Estabrook. I haven't read it, though. Unfortunately, they're likely to be slave grown even if they come from the U.S.A. I definitely want to look into getting that book.

      I struggle with the same thing, too. It's like I don't even want to buy food anymore. I'm trying to find a balance between being responsible for the knowledge I have and not stressing over what I can't control.

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    2. ok, thanks. I did find a brand at Rouses called California Healthy Harvest that I just happened to notice has the scripture reference Prov. 3:6 on the label. I don't know if that means anything. Could be promising though... I couldn't find any information online about them, but their address is on the can. I think I will write them and ask them about how they run their company.

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