I stood in the Target parking lot sipping a coffee as I waited for my daughter and her friend to finish shopping. As the indeterminable wait dragged on, I noticed the surge of people entering the store, post-Covid. I looked around at all the box stores surrounding us. I reckoned very few of the dollars we spent would ever see our town again, or even our state, or country for that matter.
When I give a dollar to my neighbor’s business endeavors he can perfect his craft—a craft that will presumably better address the town’s needs. He doesn’t need Google Analytics to figure out what I need; he just asks me. He might have to pay some employees, maybe some of my other neighbors or their kids. As that money transfers through the community it can positively affect people’s lives. When my neighbors and I are happy, well, that means good times: picnics on the weekends and everyone doesn’t have to work so darn long for so darn little.
I remember a life like that, but now it seems far gone. As my daughter spent the money I gave her, it got sucked into a vortex never to be seen again. The stuff she bought was made in another country, probably by slaves. The raw materials to produce the goods might have been sourced from a war-torn portion of Africa. Ultimately, the extended global logistics that got the product from point A to Z mostly benefited middlemen making money off transactions and wasted resources every step of the way. It encouraged corruption, because I don’t really know how or where the stuff is sourced from. For all I know, these foreign factories, to maximize a profit, are utilizing kids as slave labor to make the products my family is buying—while I preach to them that Jesus said he would free us all from slavery.
So when I say, “Idaho, fight for what’s real,” I really mean it. The “real estate” around you, its water, minerals, gems and fertility is what we need to de-link ourselves from dependence on a global economy that oftentimes violates our moral values. How many wars have been started by bearing false witness, taking lives, and stealing what was coveted? How many fake tough-guys have benefitted from bullying rather than defending? Instead of rationalizing how we can pillage afar, how about we use the beautiful minds God gave us to utilize and create with what we have? Maybe then we can have a really “fair trade” for that coffee I’m sipping.
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