#9. Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
It was the great abolitionist William Wilberforce who once said [concerning the Transatlantic Slave Trade]: “Having heard all this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”
The idea here is that if you know someone is being oppressed and you are benefiting as a result, you are obligated to act. The yoke of oppression that a human being may suffer can in no way be justified by another’s desire for wealth.
This is a tricky subject for us in the western world as the manufacturing of many of our goods is subcontracted and outsourced to developing nations where working conditions are often left unchecked.
While you may feel helpless to combat such global issues there is something that you can do. First, educate yourself on the issues, second, use that new found education to make a practical change in your life. Here is an example… In my Grade 12 year of school I took a World Issues course that focused on Fair Trade products. I can remember discussing the topic with my parents and from that time onward they have been purchasing coffee that is 100% Fair Trade certified. This means, in summation, that the manufacturing process behind the coffee is regulated by an international body which insures that fair wages are being paid to everyone who involved in the process.
I’m not asking you to change your whole lifestyle, the clothes you wear, the furniture you buy, the coffee you drink. But what I am asking you to do is to educate yourself on the fact that other human beings are being exploited for your benefit, and to then choose to make a practical change in your life.
“Here I was led into a close and laborious inquiry whether I […] kept clear from all things which tended to stir up or were connected with wars; […] my heart was deeply concerned that in the future I might in all things keep steadily to the pure truth, and live and walk in the plainness and simplicity of a sincere follower of Christ. […] And here luxury and covetousness, with the numerous oppression and other evils attending them, appeared very afflicting to me.” – John Woolman
Start your education here… Follow the links, explore, learn.
*Editor Note: My Father is not convinced that I was the one who changed his coffee drinking habits. I respectfully disagree.