Jesus Christ said many difficult things in the Holy Bible. Recently, I’ve been thinking of a statement recorded by Matthew:
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”(Matthew 6:28-29, KJV)
Then there is this remark, recorded by Luke:
“And he said unto his disciples, ‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.'” (Luke 12:22, KJV)
These are difficult things to read. I think about food a lot. I think about where it comes from, what it contains, how it was grown, and how it was prepared. Of all the things I worry about each day, the purity and quality of my food ranks high. I filter my tap water and put it in glass bottles, I boil my free-range eggs and save the shells for my garden; then I make a salad from greens I’ve grown or gathered from a farmer whose hand I’ve shaken.
I try to make thoughtful decisions about the things I buy in the local specialty grocery store, but it’s difficult. The other day I noticed the “local” eggs this store provided had been trucked from a farm fifty-six miles away. I know there are farmers with chickens right around the corner.
How can I not worry about these things? Was Jesus suggesting I turn a blind eye and mind and eat at McDonald’s?
Similarly distressing to me is the first verse. I’m no lily of the field and I spend a lot of time worrying about the clothes I wear. I strive to be as thoughtful about the provenance of my circle skirts as I am my summer squash. I’ve written about my struggles to find long-lasting quality clothing more than once here on this blog.
Surely, Jesus was not suggesting we go out in public wearing our pajamas.
The other day, I read an article about child slave labor in one of the countries that produces the inexpensive clothing we’ve all grown accustomed to buying and wearing. It affected me because I had worked in a slipper factory to put myself through college during the last remnants of American industrialism. I was adequately trained, my work environment was imperfectly pleasant, and I don’t think I was abused in any way. I don’t remember ever chatting virulently around the “water cooler” about my boss, the machinist who fixed my sewing machine, or the owner of the company (who was a real person I saw almost every day). It was “piece work” and I generally earned $12 to $15 dollars per hour. That was a lot of money for a college student in 1984.
(Click the picture to read more about my struggles with clothing.)
I’m spinning and toiling with words this morning as I lift my weary Friday brain off the pillow. I’m shuffling through my closets and bureaus, wondering if there is anything I can do to change a sovereign nation on the other side of the globe. It’s complicated and messy for a Friday; unpleasant even.
The truth is, we are addicted to cheap bleep in this country and the implications of that addiction are far-reaching. I don’t have many answers today, but I know I am free to withdraw my consent.
It’s kind of like garlic. When I read the labels and found out the garlic in the grocery store was being shipped here from around the globe, I started growing my own. It’s turned out pretty well and while my actions haven’t put an end to the overseas garlic trade, I’m no longer consenting to it.
I can withdraw my consent of Indian sweat shops by saying “No” to cheap bleep today. It might be a small step, but it’s the one I can take.
It’s a little bit less I have to worry about, like Jesus suggested.