Wow, it has been a long time since I've written. Lent is drawing to a close with Holy Week beginning this Sunday. I have been reading and reflecting on a lot of things, and been busy with my family and garden. I have continued to think about our consumption of goods and what implications those may have, but this thought process always leaves me with more irking questions than I started out with.
Here are the two biggies:
1. Where does the buck stop? Am I, the consumer, morally responsible for the working conditions and wage of the producer, or is that something solely between the employer and employee?
2. Am I, the consumer, responsible for the pollution and waste caused by the manufacturing process? Global warming aside, there still seems to be a lot of unhealthy air to breathe, water to drink and land to live on because of toxic industrial practices.
Now that I've got them written down, I think I'll have a shot at answering them. First of all, no, I don't think we bear any guilt as consumers. It is not a sin to buy or not to buy. I am not responsible for the actions of miserly corporate policy makers. However, I can make a positive difference, perhaps, in not buying from those whose practices are less than desirable. It is a choice, then, not between good and evil, but between what is acceptable and what is better. In fact, it's a whole lot more fun to see how much less I can consume when the guilt part is taken out of the equation. We live in a culture where it is common to make accusations, point fingers and blame. But this does little to improve our situation. It either causes people to get on the defensive and spend more, or gives people a false sense of righteousness when they "go green" and buy "fair trade". I suggest a third way- lay off the guilt tripping and let's see how far we can go fueled simply on our love for humanity and the rest of creation.