I deeply admire some families who choose to not give gifts at all when Christmas rolls around. I think it is an incredibly real and sacrificial way to preserve what Christmas is truly about. As for our family – we do exchange gifts, but we do it carefully. And as always, we’re a work in progress. This year I made a firm commitment to myself and God – I was going to have a store-less Christmas. I wanted so much to give gifts that were not only meaningful and unique – but ethical. And yes, I’m one of those crazy anti-big-corporation people. I am. I admit it. I fight hard-headed to stay away from places like Wal-mart. (By the way, did you know Wal-mart is the #3 worst corporation in the world, especially for global ethics and justice? They use child labour. Yes, they do.) But it’s not just about boycotting big companies or making a point.
I care deeply about people so I think hard on what I purchase and what that purchase means. I’ve been rocked to the core and so deeply convicted about this lately. It pains me to shop. I literally hate stores right now.
When we are asked to love our neighbour, we need to be fully aware and open to WHO our neighbour IS. Our neighbour is the farmer in Columbia who has a family that is starving because he is being exploited by a large coffee company. He works his hands raw but he still has no food… yet we sip steaming cups around our lavishly decorated holiday dining tables and thank Jesus for our meal…
Our neighbour is that beautiful girl-child who is forced to work 13 hours a day in a sweat shop in China, sewing the clothing we buy cheap for our children. The dress our daughter the same age wears to our Church Christmas pageant. Yes, the hem was measured and sewn after a hard smack on the face and the shout, “No talking back!” rang out at 1am. And the girl is only 10. She has no one and she is payed 1/4 the required minimum wage, if she is paid at all.
Our neighbour is the young boy of 12 who painfully stiches soccer balls through bloody fingers in a dark and dingy factory. We gush as our boy opens the gift of a new ball for the spring season, but that gift comes with a high price for a friend far from here.
Our neighbour is the single mother who sleeps on a hard cement floor of a workshop, unable to leave due to her abusive boss and excessive working hours and conditions. She sews clothing for major labels, the kind the rich buy. But she’s living below the poverty line, unable to cloth or feed her own child.
This is reality. And so, this is Christmas. The West lines the stores – fools with big pocket books and we turn a blind eye to our neighbours. The tears burn my cheeks at the very thought of it. The dillussion. The illness. The sin. The complete and utter disgust that ripples through my body to think of the power my purchases have. The way I’ve contributed to child labour, unfair treatment of my friends and my neighbours. The weight is heavy, but nothing compaired to theirs.
|Source – Ten Thousand Villages, Ugandan women, preparing to weave artisan baskets.|