Challenge Your Life…

A big part of hoping is knowing what you are hoping for. If you are anything like me, accumulating stuff is one of those things that you hope for…and then totally hate yourself for after. It’s a terrible downward cycle of taking your hard earned coin and throwing it at stuff that loses value like cars, coffees, soda, nice restaurants and the like. (In a much more colorful analogy, I recently heard a financial advisor warn us to stop “pooping” our income away, the logical outcome of eating fancy, rich foods.)
In being totally open, for the first time in my life I have allowed myself to consider income, spending, generosity and the like. Up to this point, I just pretended it didn’t matter and sort of skated by. You know, I was carefree Matt. I loved to study the words of Jesus and hate on the money people. Recently, however, in the typical adjustments that occur in life I have been forced to consider these things. And in doing so I have learned that I am NOT the generous, carefree man I had thought, but instead an anxious and tight fisted newbie to making my way through the world in a generous way.
Put in another way, allowing myself to consider life and money management only served to expose in me a deep reservoir of unchallenged fear and greed. My personal ability to endure sucky and low monetary situations covered up the fact that I need to consider what I am taking and giving back to the world for its good. Having a young family has forced me to consider what my money and resource was doing. Usually, it serves my fleeting desire to get nice things (like the kind that the ancient teachers remind us we cannot take with us into the ground). Things like cheap clothes, coffee, cheap food, and temporary happiness. I think I am actually nifty because I buy cheap!
I’ve been learning that on the other side of my blind consumption of cheap goods is cheap labor. People who are literally being consumed along with their natural resources for next to nothing often in squalor conditions. I recently watched and read a handful of media pieces about the conditions and lifestyles of garment workers. My 5 dollar on sale yellow t-shirt was probably made by a single-mother factory worker laboring for money and in conditions that are considered SLAVERY (yes slave), using chemicals which will most likely give her some terminal disease if she does not leave the factory soon, consuming a modified strain of cotton which is covered with Monsanto Round Up chemicals that have an even higher potential to cause illness for those handling it. But I had a long day at work and I can’t catch a break so I’m going to get a 5 dollar T-shirt to make myself feel better, or cheap processed meal, or cheap coffee (ever wonder where the beans come from?).
So my happy, easy going self is actually fitting perfectly into the tightly controlled and monitored fast-fashion market which is held up by slave or cheap labor, depends on mass purchases of 5 dollar T-Shirts (giving me a temporary feeling of wealth), and lining the pockets of massive retail industries.
I’m going to take this blog in a new direction. I want to go on a journey of finding the hope that is available in so many everyday choices. When we chose to eat certain foods, drink certain coffee, buy certain clothes, demand certain standards, resist consumerism and the 3,000+ ads we see a day that tell us our life could be just a bit better, we can be a voice which leads to real change. If we chose that we only need to buy clothes twice a year instead of 10-15, and insist they be made ethically, the market must change. And, with your purchasing decisions (without being super loud and proud and weird about it and telling all of your friends and stuff) you can quietly help end modern day slavery—for example.
So here’s to a journey of looking for the places where we can bring just a little more hope to the world in simple and practical ways. I am myself a novice with much to learn. I hope to see you around! Join me in the following weeks in stopping to consider and the impact that your life has on your neighbor.

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