welcome to imperfect prose on thursdays, 2013. this week’s prompt is create.
it’s cheese and crackers for lunch, with friends from the city. they’ve spent the night and we’ve rung the new year in, with boardgames and glasses of wine and homemade truffles.
trent, a teacher, is returning to work soon, to teach math to our hamlet of Dutch students, while around the world, 15 million children will be forced to miss school, working 17 hour days for pennies.
we’re talking about child labor, and my friend’s husband says some people try not to buy child labor products because they don’t support the idea, but then the children will lose their jobs and how will that help them in the long run?
i quietly stack my crackers, our kids watching TV and my heart racing. how does working at their current employment help them, even in the short run? he doesn’t know that i’m one of those people.
“well, what would you suggest we do otherwise?” i ask as politely as i can, because when it comes to mistreated children, i see red. “how else can we get the message across that this is wrong?”
because it is, but he didn’t have an answer, and our children were sitting in their clothes stitched by boys and girls not much older than them, holding toys manufactured in countries where families sleep in the same bed because they can’t afford more than one mattress and we throw out those plastic toys like they grow on trees only they don’t. they grow on our conscience.
and i don’t know what to do, other than react, to not support the buyers directly, to shop thrift stores and support the independents and locals. i do buy fair trade coffee, but that’s the tip of the berg. and i know it’s not solving the problem of child labor, but until i know how to create a solution, i can only react. at least reacting sends a message.
but our goal as Christians should be to create. creation and reaction, they use the same letters, and yet they’re polar opposites. for most of my childhood i reacted. i starved myself when i felt pain. i defended, i took shelter, i retreated. and i disappeared. because that’s what reaction does, it causes disconnect.
and i’ve spent much of my adult life creating, in the face of pain. i take the sorrow, the despair, and i try my best to churn through it, to enter into it, to connect. through paint and words and physical action, and trying to make something beautiful from it. reaction causes you to retreat. creation gives you the courage to entreat.
so i sat there stacking cheese and crackers trying to build a solution to all of the evil entwined with our shopping.
the old testament, with all of its prophets and kings and wars, was about reacting to sin. the new testament is about creating a new way of living, because we’ve been given access to the creator through his spirit.
and maybe it starts with reacting. maybe everything does. and it becomes creating when the ‘c’ is put first. when Christ becomes those children in those factories with their fingers bloodied and their tired little legs longing to run home.
and aren’t we all just longing to run home?
- One in six children 5 to 14 years old — about 16 percent of all children in this age group — is involved in child labor in developing countries.
- In the least developed countries, 30 percent of all children are engaged in child labor.
- Worldwide, 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.
- An estimated 1.2 million children — both boys and girls — are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict or commercial sex work.
- The highest proportion of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa, where 26 percent of children (49 million) are involved in work. (Compassion)
a shocking video reveals a raid that frees 14 enslaved Indian children from an underground sweatshop
some awesome ethical sites:
Toms Shoes and Eyewear: with every pair of shoes or glasses you purchase, Tom’s will give a pair to a child in need.
Free2Work: End Human Trafficking by knowing which corporations to support/buy from.
Warby Parker frames: For every pair of glasses purchases, a pair is given to someone in need.)
Stop Child Labor: pursuing an end to child labor exploitation
every thursday, we gather together to celebrate redemption. here are the details:
1. link up a post (old or new) that relates to this week’s prompt
2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post, so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog)
3. read other’s prose, and encourage them!
so won’t you join us, as we “walk each other home”? (ram dass)