Celebrate Freedom with Freedom!

Hope everyone is staying cool, eating hot dogs, and exploding sparkly things in honor of our nation’s birth!

While you are enjoying the holiday, I’d like to encourage you to make a donation to one of the many charities that fights for the freedom of those enslaved around the world. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate your freedom by giving freedom to someone else!

I’m making a donation to Courage Worldwide, a charity based here in Sacramento that provides rescue and restoration of young girls rescued out of sex trafficking locally (yes, it happens in your backyard). I volunteer for this organization regularly, and I can see first-hand the amazing work they are doing bringing freedom and a safe home for girls who have suffered so much. Freedom doesn’t just mean not having a physical oppressor. It also means freedom of the heart and soul, to live a life of courage, purpose, and love.

Another incredible organization is the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. Their organization is amazing, bringing freedom to thousands of people over the last fifteen years, and working to change laws, politics, and societal views to better serve victims and society as a whole. I follow their work closely, attended one of their annual prayer gatherings, and donate to them as well — a phenomenal organization.

There are dozens of other organizations with similar goals of bringing freedom to the captives. I encourage you to make a donation today and move the world one step closer to freedom for all.

Sundays: “Less Bad”

This is a continuation of thoughts regarding my post a few weeks ago about social justice and sustainable living.

My friend Hills (who has a great blog where she recommends all sorts of wonderful things) is fairly aware of the impact of her shopping habits. When we were roommates in Boston, I was amazed to watch her go shopping. It was like an extreme sport. Want to buy some eyeliner? Out pops a spreadsheet of which cosmetics companies do not test on animals. That kind of thing.

This was back before I cared much about my shopping habits. Is it cheap? Awesome? Is it cute? Great! Is it coated in high fructose corn syrup? Yum! But the more Hills and I talked about it, the more I realized she has some really great thoughts about sustainable living. This is my favorite:

“I know I can never be really good at this. Really, my goal is to be less bad.”

Less bad. The more I think about it, I think it’s probably the best we can hope for. And it’s way better than just bad.

I’m almost finished with Everyday Justice: the Global Impact of Our Daily Choices. In it, author Julie Clawson gives practical ways to address some of the ways we oppress workers and ruin the environment with our shopping choices. Plus she comes from a Christian perspective, talking about loving our neighbor and being good stewards of the earth, which I appreciate.

One of the things I really like about this book is that she doesn’t have an all-or-nothing approach. In other words, she’s trying to get people to be less bad, and to think about how their shopping choices impact others and the environment both here and around the world. It’s a very interesting read, and covers topics both new to me as well as things I’ve read from other authors (including topics such as tomato growers in Florida, cattle feed lots, and sweatshops).

As I ate my pre-packaged salad yesterday at lunch (so easy, so cheap, sort of “meh” in the taste department), I wondered where all the ingredients came from, how many resources were used to get all those ingredients into one place for packaging, how much extra packaging there was in this one little salad, whether or not the veggies were coated with pesticides, and how the workers who grew the veggies were treated. Somehow I went from just my normal lunchtime routine to thinking about a much bigger picture. And I had a moment of salad panic.

As I try and make better choices, I’m realizing just how difficult it is. I had a salad today at a local restaurant that I often go to and thought I’d email them to see where they source their produce and meat. They have no email address or phone number on their site; they just have an address. Which means now I have to write a letter. Hello, the 19th century called and it wants its forms of communication back.

It’s things like this that deter me from really finding out more about where stuff comes from. It turns out even being less bad is difficult.

Despite telling myself that every good choice makes me less bad, I still am frustrated this week. I’m frustrated that our production systems have come so far that it’s impossible to source most of what’s in my home. I’m frustrated that somehow “organic” and “sustainable” and “local” have these elitist connotations, despite the fact that this was the way the world worked for thousands of years before about 1950. I’m frustrated that this rabbit trail is making me think so much when it was so much easier just to be ignorant. I am frustrated that it’s hard and takes time and energy and extra money. I’m frustrated I have to consider pesticides and natural resources and worker conditions and animal welfare and the environment and all sorts of things because honestly, when I think about it carefully, I really do care deeply about these things and want to make changes.

But as Clawson and Hills have said, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s just about being a little less bad. So for dinner I’m having farmer’s market zucchini and corn risotto. It’s a start.

How were you less bad this week?