As the ever popular season of wild and frenzied consumerism approaches (aka Christmas), I have been thinking heartily on my approach to gifting specifically, but also trading money for goods in general.
Where does my money go?
Much like when I made the decision to become a vegetarian, I have come to a crossroads in terms of my behaviors and the disconnection that goes on between the want, the need, and the shared common good. Even as I type this, I am well aware that the computer I am using was made in bad conditions; the people putting the bits together were paid poorly,and they were probably exposed to dangerous chemicals that compromised their health, yet here it is on my lap. What do I do with this contradiction?
I don’t quite know the full answer. I certainly cannot sit comfortably upon a horse so high like a skyscraper in the clouded sky, because I am not perfect. Please don’t mistake me for someone who is totally deluded by a sense of self aggrandizement. As judgmental as I can be, the universe does take it upon itself to ground me, leveling me out if I get too too too big for my britches.
There is always a sense of, “I could be better, I could be worse,” hovering about though, which can lead me down apathy road. The most important question I have for myself is, who do I wish to model my life after? Who do I respect? Am I actively choosing to demonstrate my respect for these people and this planet? My answer is, sometimes. Certainly moreso than before, as I learn and change, learn and change. Another important question everyone might benefit from is why do I respect this person and disrespect that one? Our society teaches us many things about who is worthy, but are they even true?
It gives me pause when it comes to such messages about ethical behaviour because there is a sense of practicing before preaching. Though I understand that practice isn’t full mastery, there are places where I know I’m not being fully conscious of my impact. I need to counter balance between message and deed, because if I wait until I’m good enough to share, then who knows when I’ll talk about it.
All of that being said, I would regret not mentioning the power of mindfulness and money; little by little, intent and action can change direction of economy. Unless someone is utterly out of touch, everyone knows who the big players are in the consumer market place. And everyone ought to understand the reality of what big corporations do and what continuous monetary flow into huge brand names is responsible for. Changing our minds is not only changing our own lives, but it extends well beyond ourselves. It may seem easiest to put on the blinders and lie to ourselves…in fact, it IS easier in some ways, but with every step I take to raise my own awareness, the harder and harder it is for me to continue with the status quo. I feel very uneasy when I make misaligned decisions in all areas of my life. Shopping is but one way of demonstrating a lack of balance in human priority.
In an effort to put myself in a better position on the sliding scale of ethical gifting for the holidays, I decided I would give local or Fair Trade gifts. The most challenging part of this decision isn’t the pricing (though I’m still unemployed), but finding stuff for my nephews, because I know what they’d prefer to have and those things aren’t necessarily going to be made fairly at all. At any rate, I plunge forward with this goal in mind, and encourage anyone who sees this to consider change by degree. Consider buying a family member or friend one quality item instead of 3 cheap ones. Low prices are low for a reason. Keep the big picture in mind when putting that plastic into the debit machine…where oh where is that electronic transmission leading and what is it going to do when it gets there?
Do a little bit of homework. I know that I don’t know everything there is to know! There are countless websites out there; I know it can be overwhelming, so hop on here first:
This is a great site, a terrific place to start, and a valuable shopping resource. Join me and the ever growing movement to play, live, eat, dance, love, share FAIR!!!