Thursday, August 21, 2008

the justice that is injust

so i have been wanting a rug for our front room for awhile. judah is just getting to the age where he is army crawling pretty much anywhere and on our hard wood floors he wiggles around and pretty much "sweeps" my floor picking up specs of junk along the way.  our friends have a little one just a few days younger than jude and when we went over to the house she just plopped him down on their soft rug and went to do other stuff.  the rug alone provided entertainment for both kiddos AND kept them somewhat clean and i can only imagine more comfortable.

anyway, this would all be great and i would have just gone out and bought this amazing shag rug from a local store EXCEPT i have this knowledge of the fact that much of what we buy as consumers in america is not just made with cheap labor but often SLAVE labor, and with children at that.  rugs just happen to be one of the top commodities that we purchase that also have huge links to the modern day slave trade.  here is where my problems, issues, quandaries come in. 

i took this class awhile back on the modern day slave trade and learned about a group (rugmark, that certifies that the rug you are buying did not use the little hands of children or slaves to make.  really awesome!  i did some research on their sight and found a few local dealers that happen to have a few of the rugs stashed in their collections. Three out of the floor places had rugs that were made by modern designers, REALLY cool but just wouldn't work in our room (although my architect hubby wishes we would have changed our entire house to a modern style so they would have).  so i went to the fourth place on my list. the rug source of denver. sounds good right? well, not exactly.

i pulled up to a building (the design center of denver, right by the sculpture that looks like french fries, for you locals) and i quickly became aware that i might have an issue.  i got my 8 month old out of the car and entered into the building.  i walked past stores that i had NO clue really existed.  i mean i thought HM Home and Room & Board really marked the high end for furniture.  but that day i learned there indeed were places that sold gorgeous hand made dishes straight from italy, couches that no one would ever sit on and chandeliers that may cost more than my home.  i should have turned around, but i wanted so badly to know that the purchase i was going to make for this rug was socially conscious and remembered those chained to rugs all across the globe.  so judah and i continued walking.

we found the store. in it were amazing, beautiful intricate rugs.  the shapes, colors, textures were unbelievable.  i was soon met by a semi-friendly women who wanted to know if she could help me with something.  i told her that i was on the quest to find a rug and that i didn't care about much but the fact that it was rugmark certified and wouldn't mind if it were less expensive.  she humored me by continuing on the conversation and gave me the low down on which designers in their store were certified, however the condescending tone in her voice began to confirm my thoughts that i may just be in the wrong place.  and then the question came..."are you working with a designer? in order to buy a rug from us you must have a designer."  i told her we were not. she assured me that they could set me up with one if i would like, but i couldn't just purchase a rug.  she also told me to feel free wandering around looking at the rugs.

it didn't take long for me and my little man to walk right out the door.  the cheapest rug i saw was only a mere $4,000.  i wondered how much more it would have been to pay my "designer" on top of that. there were others for $10,000, certified and not certified.  i wondered which ones would still have the blood stains from the little fingers that were forced to weave them together if they hadn't been washed for our homes.  

as i walked out the door and past the shops, i help my son and just wanted to cry.  i felt like an idiot...for walking in there, for asking my questions, for wanting a rug, for caring, for not having a "designer", for having to have a "designer" to purchase a rug...and then it hit me. injustice is taking its toll through out attempts to make just decisions.  it is like it knows the heart behind choices that we are trying to make (fair trade coffee, slave free chocolate, rugmark rugs) and flips the whole thing on its head where we are encountering a different kind of injustice.  

it seems pretty freakin unjust to me to spend over $10,000 on a rug that we walk on.  to spend $4,000 on something so you know that slavery wasn't involved in the weaving of the rug (what about the bricks that made the building where it was made or the cotton that was picked to make it...will it be another $4,000 to get that certified????). not to mention the fact that this nice amazing rug will be taken prisoner soon to a little toddler who will spill god-knows-what all over it, trample his muddy feet on it and i would probably find myself uptight and yelling at him to get off our nice rug. YIKES, local kellen-centerd-initiated-injustice!  and all these decisions get even messier when you throw in the fact that i claim to be a follower of Jesus who said "whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me." so would that mean spending my $4,000 on a certified rugmark rug while today tens of thousands of children will die because they didn't have enough to feed their bellies???? 

in his book, jesus for president, shane claiborne makes a comment about the revolution that it will take for us to become ordinary radicals following jesus again.  he says he wonders if it will look less like us walking around drinking our organic fair-trade latte in our certified organic fair-trade shirts but more like the amish.  a life of simplicity that works directly for much of what it needs.  that day i think i came head on with the question. and i must say the answer that my heart is coming to is a hard, scary, unbelievable one that may require me to loose this life in order to really live...(familiar words to us as fellow believers???) oh Lord, i am not sure how to live. i want to be willing! make me willing!

i did get a rug.  i found one at target for $80. made in the USA, machine made.  looks like someone just cut up a piece of cheap carpet and trimmed the edges...i guess it settled some of my conscious though.  i mean at least i know now that i won't be yelling at judah every time he walks on it!  

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