Last week a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing hundreds of workers. The building owners had ignored warnings by the authorities that the building was unsafe. The almost immediate reaction was against Wal Mart. The pundits' response was that corporate greed was to blame for the working conditions in Bangladesh and a boycott of Wal Mart was called for.
On a personal level, we must ask ourselves how our actions reveal our hearts, our motivations and our ideals. An NPR Article references an experiment that revealed that very few of us are willing to pay a premium for clothing that is ethically fabricated. If we can infer that we divulge our ideals with how and where we spend our money, then it speaks poorly of us as a humanity.
How can we expect our government or our corporations or academia to represent values that the general population does not hold? We simply cannot hold Wal Mart or Joe Fresh or H&M or any other corporate entity responsible for the fact that we are a selfish, vain, prideful people who do not care for the poor. And, when I say "care for," I mean with our pocketbooks. I mean that we won't pay more for ethically fabricated clothing that benefits the poor factory workers who make them.
I'm sorry to continually point out the deficiencies of our religious institutions. They are also a reflection of our flawed humanity. But, they are responsible to call for the best in us to come forward. They are responsible to explain in a provocative and profound way who we are, in our hearts, and how there is a better way. Instead, they push away the very ideals and ethics and values that we should be embracing and promoting. Some members of those religious institutions are then misled and some feel very misrepresented. I count myself among the latter.
So, it starts with you and me. With the man in the mirror. When it comes down to it, we are selfish, vain and prideful. We can't count on anyone else or hold anyone to a higher standard than we hold ourselves without becoming hypocrites. But, we can start with ourselves. We change from the inside out. You and I can start at home, by being kind and giving and caring. We can stop caring about what others think of us and teach our children the same. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us and that we could help them whenever we wanted. So, let's do that. Let's teach our children not to judge, but to open their hands (and their pocketbooks) to the poor. When we've established some credibility, then we can affect the world around us. We can support or establish companies who do care for their employees and the things we hold dear. We cannot hope that there will be many of us. But, that should not stop us in our resolve to make this globe a better place for all its inhabitants.
"Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For indeed, that's all who ever have." Margaret Mead