There is a quote from Tony Kriz’s book “Neighbors and Wise Men: Sacred Encounters in a Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places” that I wrote down about a week ago and have been pondering ever since.
‘There is a reason why all the major religious texts spend so much time talking about money. Those ancient dudes were brilliant. They knew that it is not just about being rich or being poor, not entirely. Money is a language. It is a language of morality. And like with so many of the most important issues, morality is found in how deep we are willing to dig. And are we willing to discover…and face the implications of our actions?’ (Kriz, 2012, p. 186).
I have wrestled with this concept for the last week or so, especially as my family goes through financial difficulties right now and we look back in regret at things we cannot change. I wonder about the choices I make with money and it disgusts me that often I make a decision on solely what is cheapest or contains the most value for me, as a consumer. I tend to think that a lot of people think the same way.
There are some things I will or won’t do, but they don’t seem like enough. I am not an extreme couponer because I don’t believe it is right nor profitable to hoard things even if they are free, and I also don’t like that if I did that I could walk out of the store and not pay anything for my purchases, or have the store owe me money. It just doesn’t seem right to me, and so I choose not to do it. I’ve never been a big boycotter, but I have decided that I will no longer buy pizza from Papa Johns no matter how delicious it is because the dude lives in a huge castle and has so much and yet is too stingy to provide health insurance to his employees under the new Obamacare. But I am not writing this to get into a political discussion about health insurance; I’m merely presenting it as one of the financial choices I have made recently.
I feel guilty every time I buy candy bars knowing that the candy was mass produced using child labor in other countries. I feel like I should give up chocolate so that I am not supporting such things, but I know I can’t erase chocolate completely, and often I justify it by saying that I like it and that if I don’t buy it, someone else will anyway. But then again that doesn’t mean that I should buy it. If I want chocolate I can spend extra and buy fair trade chocolate. It’s just that lately I have been pondering the morality of buying things that I know have been produced by child labor and slavery, and I know it’s not right. I express my outrage at human trafficking and the sex trade, and yet with my dollars I support slavery and child labor. No human being should ever own another human being. We are all precious people in the eyes of God. I’m upset with myself every time I buy a candy bar and I let my desire for something sweet dictate my choices. Buying a candy bar that I know has been produced using slavery and child labor is immoral. What I spend my money on shows what I truly value and what my morality is.
This is just one example of the struggle that I am working through in regards to morality and money. It’s the fight I have with myself to do the right thing while knowing that I’m not. What point is there in claiming to be a Christian and that I try to do what God asks of me when I won’t even skip buying a candy bar because I know that would be an immoral choice. Sometimes it’s the little things in life. By choosing not to buy that candy bar, I just made a moral choice to not support slavery. When I do choose to buy the candy bar anyway, knowing what I know, I show that in reality I’m an immoral person. I can show my love for people all around the world by choosing not to buy products that have exploited them.
I need to remember that money is the language of morality, and what I choose to do with my money shows what kind of person I truly am.
Kriz, T 2012, Neighbors and Wise Men: Sacred Encounters in a Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places, Thomas Nelson, Nashville.