Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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The Black Friday Beast + Social Injustice

The most exciting and ridiculous – yet undeniably entertaining – shopping day of the year is among us.

Black Friday. {Enter Twilight Zone theme music here.}

There were a few years where us sisters and cousins got out with our moms along with all the other crazies of society to do a little post-turkey coma shopping. And what a sight it was.

We heard there was a big sale on boots at Belk. We were laughing, cutting up, and hanging out in line with our Starbucks waiting on the store to open at 3 am. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

As soon as the doors flung open, you would have thought that we had all been drowning for days and Noah had kindly chosen to open up the entrance to the Ark.

So the doors to Belk flung open and I realized if I didn’t break out into a full-out sprint, I would be trampled under the feet of boot-hungry women. A few minutes later I found myself all alone in a sea of people, faux leather, and tissue paper.

Women were crawling under tables to try on shoes, then yelling out to their friends that they needed a half-size larger in the Steve Madden shoe. And there I was yelling, SIZE 10! I NEED A SIZE 10 IN THESE! HEY LADY ARE THERE ANY ON THAT TABLE????

I ran out of that store exhausted from my fight to find a $19.95 pair of knee boots to make me look like a valuable contribution to society. But there is something much more sad about this situation.

I fed into the American way of self-promoting materialism, regardless of the injustices someone else suffered for my gain.

———–

Did you know that there are 27 million slaves in the world today? The horrific events of the African Slave Trade hardly touch the massive extent of humans using other humans in the modern world.

You don’t have to look far to learn about nightmares happening in our own backyard. It’s been estimated that a typical American town of about 30,000 people has at least 15 young ladies hidden in basements being used as sex slaves. These girls serve an average of 16 or more ‘clients’ per day.

Remember the garment factory that collapsed in Bangladesh this spring? Millions of people are laboring in unsafe working conditions in order to supply our demand of cheap clothing.

How’s your coffee tasting? What about the diamond on your ring finger? Love the bananas you had for breakfast? Is there a large TV you’ve spotted for your Christmas wish list?

A large part of the luxuries we consider everyday necessities were bought with a price: some man, some woman, or some child’s dignity.

This issue is multi-faceted, complicated, and too deep to even scratch the surface in one blog post. I’m not going to encourage anyone to stop buying products made in Taiwan or suggest that we revert to an agrarian society.

But I will point you in a few directions to become educated about the topic. It’s never too early or too late to start learning what goes on outside your comfortable commercial shopping experience.

Start here: Take this quiz to see how many people work to resource your lifestyle.

Then go here: You don’t have to read the fine print, but the graphics are pretty jaw-dropping. That’s right…the United States consumes 7 PLANETS worth of resources, trash, and energy each year.

Download this app: Free2Work allows you to scan barcodes of products you are interested in by using your smart phone. You can see what kind of reputation the manufacturer has in the world of human rights protocol.

Buy gifts that give to others: Here are some of the causes that make it easy to bless multiple lives by your purchases. I even found some cool man gifts to share with you!

Gold Hoop Earrings – $28 – Ruhamah Designs

iPhone 4/4S Alarm Doc – $38 – Sevenly

Hogan Duffle – $56 – Sevenly

Cozy Zip Wrap – $88 – Noonday Collection

Custom Key Fob – $10 – Better Life Bags

Blue Waters Mug – $18 – Ten Thousand Villages

Journal and Paper Collection – Assorted Prices – Raven and Lily

 

I don’t want to write some gut-wrenching post that turns everybody all anti-Wal-Mart. There is a small positive aspect of contributing to the enterprise of third-world countries.

 

Still, it’s time for me to stop knowing about things like this without doing something about it. I am writing this because I want to share a commitment with you. I will be using this Christmas to practice giving beyond my friends and family.

 

It’s going to hurt my pocketbook because this means I can’t run to TJ Maxx and pick up a $30 scarf that I buy for only $6.99. This also means that I won’t be Black Friday shopping in the department stores.

 

Please don’t hear this as a way to make myself sound like Mother Teresa. Don’t you dare say, Wow! You are so good! And I’ll vomit if you thank me for my sacrifice of spending a few extra dollars to buy fair-trade items for the people that I love.

 

If anything, you should chastise me for using the vulnerable people of society for years just to live a little more comfortably. Tell me how pitiful it is that I bring home a decent paycheck and then refuse to pay a fair price for a quality product.

 

If you wish to join me this holiday season, I would love to have some company. I’m always looking for an accountability partner. I don’t have this figured out. I continue to buy products that I am sure contribute to unethical practices.

 

Maybe you’re not ready to totally give up your favorite Folgers blend. That’s ok. But keep reading and keep learning. Seriously, this post doesn’t even touch the wealth of knowledge the Internet has on this topic.

 

Let’s just open our eyes. Let’s recognize that we are living in a culture that is disgustingly materialistic. Let’s commit to living within our means and using this season of giving to give to someone besides ourselves.

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