This is the second part of a series on what it looks like to live a life aware. As persons who are passionate about faith and justice we choose to live our lives in a particular way. Sometimes the practical can inspire others to think about how they live their lives. We invite you to share as a part of this what ways you are choosing to use your life, your story, in a way that might impact the life of others by what you choose to buy or not buy, use or not use, be or not be. Make this an interactive blog, share with us via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail how you choose to live a life aware, your story might inspire others.
From the pen of Gina Farcas;
Living a life aware…
I became aware of the reality of human trafficking and its dark impact on our world when I was living in the Ural mountain region of Russia a few years ago. One day while driving home I observed two young women standing on the street corner, offering their bodies to any drive by buyers. They weren’t there by choice, they had a man in a dark car watching the young women like a hawk a few feet away. This began a regular conversation with the missionary I was working along side about the prevalence of women answering the call to escape poverty and instead losing everything they know by being sold into the pandemic of slavery in our world. In my time I had the privilege to meet many young inspiring university age girls who were ambition but were the ones that because of ambition the ones who were preyed upon by those anxious to use them in their brothels, and sex shops throughout the rest of the world.
I returned to the United States burdened by the vulnerability and darkness I saw. The images and friendships I made with many of these girls live with me everyday. I began to read news articles and have conversations with persons who knew and had seen way more than me and see how desperately something or someone needed to take action. I’m grateful that in that same season of life I was introduced to a community of people who were also seeking out the how, where, and what questions to ‘fight’ this injustice of our day. As a community we found it to be essential that we spend specific, intentional time in prayer, for guidance and for those who were in bondage. In this community I was inspired to figure out what it meant for me to live a life in a world where everything is touched by slavery, not only with-in vulnerable human beings, but also with the purchases that I make.
During this season I read news articles, and reports online of companies who use less than ethical standards in their employment, making points of how the coffee I was drinking and the chocolate I was savoring was fueling the slavery economy in much of the world. I read how the new dress that I just purchased from a popular clothing store in the mall was sewn and created by one who will never see her self or her child live in freedom from the bondage of a vicious slave owner. I made a decision to choose what I purchased with awareness and grace. Granted, I did and still do live on a limited salary that doesn’t afford the ability to shop organic and fair trade always. But what I could/can do is make adjustments in where I shop and what companies I choose to buy from.
The ways that I choose to live aware are primarily in my purchasing power.
I primarily purchase clothing from consignment and thrift stores. This not only removes me from the equation of contributing to the clothing companies that are embedded in un-ethical standards and slavery but also makes finding clothing a creative and fun experience. There are a few things like undergarments and essential clothing that its important to buy new. I do buy from a retail store, but I am conscious and avoid the stores that I know are regular supporters of unjust practices to people, I research these using the resources Jessica previously shared.
When I grocery shop, I try to not only make ethical purchases by purchasing from companies that are making strides toward being ethical, but I also choose which grocery to shop in. I purchase from company who have a better reputation globally than just here within the US. When available I choose to make a regular habit of visiting farmer’s market’s to support my neighbors and those who are working hard to produce fresh foods.
When shopping I look at tags and ‘produced in’ labels, as these are good indicators of the conditions in which these products were made. Nations in which I know most products are made by slaves or child labor, depends on the products, I chose to avoid check out this article from Huffington post on research done a few years ago. Products Most Likely to be made by Child or Forced Labor
In everyday living, I also choose to live in such a way that keeps my eyes open to the people around me. Even in the United States there are persons in our backyards that are trafficked and controlled, it may be the person you walk pass at the park or the girl who just cleaned your table at a local restaurant. Who knows but that simply living with our eyes open we may be used to lead someone to freedom. A helpful resource on this is, The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales
Living aware for me, means being educated as to what it is in my world, in my story that can be done to make a difference someone else’s. In what I buy, or who I encounter.