Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Great "Because"

I've been meaning to write a post about WHY I'm doing the crazy suburban gardening, so here it is! 

There is so much garbage happening in our world today, and a lot of it affects food security. Places in Africa are in drought because developed countries are spewing toxins into the air, causing the climate to change and droughts to happen in places where they don't usually happen. Mothers in Thailand work absurd hours stitching our clothes in terrible conditions, all so they can bring home a few bucks to buy food for their families. Little girls are sold by their families to strangers so that they can keep their farm or put a little more food on the table, and these little girls are subsequently trafficked around the world to satisfy the lusts of wealthier people. Like I said, there is evil happening in the world today, and admit it or not, our North American lifestyle is responsible for a great deal of it. 

I read a book about poverty a couple years ago that really put a new spin on things, and I'd like to read some of it to you.

"What does oppression of workers have to do with me? Of course, I'd never oppress workers or not give them fair wages - I don't even employ anyone to oppress! But these verses can guide the purchasing choices I make. The following passage affects me deeply:

The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: 
“…the plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. 
The Lord says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.” In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls. Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
    instead of a sash, a rope; 
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.
Isaiah 3:14-24 

God condemns those who "grind the face of the poor." In the next sentence, he condemns the women of Zion for their luxurious lifestyles, assumedly made possible by the oppression of the poor. It's very possible that the women of Zion knew little or nothing about the conditions of the workers who enabled their finery. They weren't in the fields. They were simply enjoying their wealth, probably without giving much thought to the workers - even if they knew just a little bit. But these women were condemned outright. Is there a similarity between the haughty women of Zion and me - enjoying the luxuries my money buys?...This isn't a simple right or wrong issue - these industries are sometimes the only thing keeping some farmers from death. But I do have to question whether God implicates me in the oppression of workers when I purposely buy cheaper products from companies I know are exploiting the poor rather than buying those goods from companies that ensure fair payment of workers. The passage in Isaiah convinces me that God has a high standard for the choices I make, and I need to buy with my eyes open wide." (taken from Hope Lives, by Amber Van Schooneveld, p 58-59)

I know that growing a garden hardly seems to address the greater issues going on in the world, but for me, it's a small way of going back to a lifestyle that isn't so hard on others. I try to buy clothes secondhand, and if I buy them new, I wear them until they're full of holes (sometimes even then :). I buy organic produce, not because I'm a food snob, but because I recognize that organic farming is much easier on the planet than conventional, which is my small way of cutting down on greenhouse gasses. (Although I admit that I've grown to love organic produce as well because it's healthier for my family.) Our family has only one car, although to be honest, it's not a huge sacrifice because my husband can walk to work. We don't flush the toilets every time we pee (except of course when we have company!) so that we can do our part to conserve precious clean water. 

And I garden without chemicals so that, in a small way, I can say to the "establishment" that I don't agree with the way the world is going, and I'd like to reverse that trend in any way I can. And I want to garden the front yard so that my neighbors can discover that it's ok to grow your own food. You don't have to drive your car to the store to buy food shipped from Peru, you can grow some of it and preserve it yourself! It's called the 100-step diet, hehe :)

I know there's a lot more I can be doing, and I'm sure that'll come. Another thing that we do as a family is to support children through Compassion. I've seen a lot of child-sponsorship organizations, and I believe that Compassion provides the most life-change-for-your-buck than any other organization. They not only provide food, water, education like other organizations, but they provide a child with adults who walk with them through life (one of the strongest factors in increasing the resiliency of an at-risk child). And most importantly, they teach them that God loves them, made them special, and has a plan for their future. That knowledge alone is what starts breaking those chains of poverty. Would you check out this link today? Please pray for these kids that they will have access to the food that they need to sustain them, and that they will have knowledge of the One who can satisfy their souls forever!


Edmonton Drost's said...

love it. You inspire me. Thanks for challenging me to do more.

Marguerite said...

Well-said! These are things I'm constantly trying to balance as well- trying to live stewardly in an overly-affluent society. Keep swimming against the current!

Shelly Billiald said...

That is fabulous! You inspire me! I so would love to have a garden in my yard in one way or another but have no clue where to start :( But I have made a conscious effort to try buy Canadian produce and to shop at farmers markets as often as possible. Maybe one day I will plant a garden in my yard too! But we do sponsor compassion and world vision kids... we actually just had one sponsor kids community graduate from program and become self-sufficient!

Thanks for inspiring!!