"Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Auntie Mame

May 10, 2013

Character Challenges

Who are you when no one is watching? Do you have character, integrity, or moral fiber?

One of the early lessons in my life was that character matters. It seemed that people who lied, cheated and manipulated got ahead in the short-term, but eventually paid a bigger price for it.

In the last couple of years, I have wrestled with God, myself and my beliefs over major issues. From moral questions such as, if I am pro-choice, would I work for Planned Parenthood? To making a stand for the rights of homosexuals to marry and be an integral part of the Christian community. To relatively minor decisions of accepting responsibility for backing into a parked car when absolutely no one saw me do it, and returning to pay for an item that on the bottom of my cart and was missed.

However, it wasn't until I attended a lovely fondue party hosted by LaDonna Barron and Amor co-founder Gayla Congdon to introduce us to Stop the Traffik, a global movement to end human trafficking that I faced my greatest challenge - stop being a part of human trafficking.

It seemed simple at first - don't eat chocolate that isn't certified as free trade. No problem as I don't eat that much chocolate. And coffee, well, that's totally worth the price increase.

Then a friend challenged me financially. The tragedy in Bangladesh brought to light that much of the garment industry is built on the backs of the poor and the oppressed. And it continues:
This comes as a fire at a Bangladeshi sweater manufacturer killed another eight people yesterday. The death toll in Bangladesh is a third of the people who died in the 9/11 attacks. It is 1004 more than died in the Boston bombings and 979 more than died in the Sandy Hook shooting massacre. The victims of the building collapse were mostly young men and women. Simon McRay, national manager at Ethical Clothing Australia, says while responsibility for sourcing clothes ethically lies with retailers, consumers must realise cheap clothing is cheap for a reason. "If you're going to buy cheap fashion you're buying exploitation there's no two ways around it," Mr McRay said.
And cheap is my favorite word which is why I often shop at Walmart instead of another choice. However that stops today. I will not purchase anything nor shop anywhere that I know is either contributing to the oppression of individuals or is under-employing their staff to avoid providing basic benefits. It may be a big-box store, a major retailer, the tire manufacturer, or even the restaurant that has illegals doing the behind-the-scenes work for less pay. It means asking hard questions and reading labels. It means pulling my 401k out of investments that support those things. It means paying more for the betterment of our world. It means taking a stand with the one thing that matters to all of us - money.

Who are you going to be when no one is watching?

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