11 November 2011

It Was A Hello Kitty Shirt

This is a guest post written from the heart of my dear friend, Cathie.  Read it and be challenged, like me.


I ran to Walmart quickly today to return something and began looking for shirts to fit my daughter.  I found one that I liked that I was certain would look cute on her. It was pink.  It was Hello Kitty.  And it was seven dollars.  “Hmmm” I thought, “Seven dollars is a little much for a shirt but it will look really cute on her and I know she'll love it… I'll just get it.”

As I began walking down the long aisle to pay for it, a war began in my mind.  I remembered an email I had recently seen about Walmart being rated "F" for its fair trade practices and slave labor.  But I just kept ignoring that thought and kept heading toward the checkout.  “Okay, I'll look and see where it was made” I consented to myself.  Answer?  Indonesia.  “Well lots of our clothes are made from there right?” My thoughts continued “I wonder if the person who made this shirt for Mattea was the same age as my girl… four?”

I began to let the Lord really speak to me in my mind's eye.

I saw a little girl in Indonesia working morning until night without any pay, with little  food, little sleep, probably beaten, possibly raped... all so I could have this cute little shirt for my Mattea. All so I could have it at the low price of seven dollars.  Was it worth it? 

I kept wrestling with God all the way to the check-out, saying it's just one small item.  I've shopped here many times.  One more little thing certainly can’t hurt?  I've known Walmart is rated low for fair trade and slave labor for awhile but I hadn’t let the ‘knowing’ sink in my heart and conscience... until today. 

Something else struck me as odd as I walked through that mega-store today.  Everyone I looked at was just trying to get the cheapest deal, the lowest price, the most for their money.  Just like me.  People had their lists; their shopping faces were on.  It's a bad economy.  We all need to be wise and frugal.  But I wondered if they all knew, just knew, like I just knew... if they wouldn't do it anymore.  But even I had known previously and still shopped there after I’d heard awful stories.  I asked myself “How can we know these things, but still ignore them?” 

The Lord impressed His answer upon me.“Because there's a disconnect from ‘over there’ to ‘over here’.” He spoke to my heart. I listened.

We don't see it happening; we don't hear about it on a regular basis; we can't imagine these things could be true.  So we naturally and easily disconnect ourselves from the horrific reality that this is happening in our world today.

I continued to surrender and I allowed my heart to connect ‘over there’ to ‘over here’. What if I saw Mattea, Mackenzie, Mathias, Isabella, Aubrie, Joey, Micah, Ava, Amber, Jessie, Lydia - and the list goes on of all our beautiful precious kids in our community- what if we saw all of them being forced to work in horrific conditions, forced to do things unimaginable, forced to be adults in their little kid bodies... would we still buy the shirts they were making for us?  Would we still want to get that sale or deal because it's cheap and we are ‘poor’?  Would we still support the company that was ‘hiring’ (kidnapping or dishonestly taking) them and having for them to work for cheap... FREE... so the rest of the world could profit?  Or would we find another way to pay the extra money to go to another store that is not willing to participate in this kind of labor? 

And so I put that cute little Hello Kitty shirt back on the rack and said a little prayer of surrender to the Lord.

Today our family stopped shopping at Walmart.  I realize it's a long and difficult road to find out who is fair trade and who does and does not participate in slave labor.  But once you do know, I mean, KNOW in your heart and soul and that God has spoken - like I did today - seeing and believing in what He is saying, then to turn back is like a dog going back to its vomit.  As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. (Proverbs 26:11) I don’t want to be considered foolish by God and I do want to stand up for what is right.  Is anyone fighting on behalf of these children? I will do what I can to stand up for them. Leaving Walmart in my past is a small thing, I admit, but at least it’s something.

This verse came to mind:  

The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he'll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! Luke 12:48

We all know that excessive drinking while pregnant causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  We know that smoking causes disease or even death.  We know that extended exposure to the sun causes skin cancer.  We know too much of certain foods can cause high cholesterol and heart problems. We can't see it happening while it's happening, but the research and science have proven it as fact.  We accept these things as truth and we adjust our lifestyles accordingly.

And now we know that some corporations exploit children in the manufacturing of their products.  If we continue to support companies that don't practice fair trade, then aren’t we aiding the continuation of the use of cheap, abusive child labor?   The needs are overwhelming, certainly. It’s hard to know the right way to respond and the way to make the most impact. I don’t have all the answers. But maybe, just maybe we can be people that do the possible and take the first step of saying “No” in our hearts and begin to adjust our lifestyles accordingly.

I write all this - not to be dramatic or emotional - but to honestly share what God did in my heart in the hopes that God can speak to your hearts too.  Please don't think I will judge anyone for where they shop.  I know that becoming entirely fair trade and slave labor free in my shopping is a long road that I have just begun.  But once you know, you know. And today God showed me His heart and asked me to take a stand.  So I did.

                         "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil                            is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke




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