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Boycott…

July 8, 2009 Leave a comment

There is a tradition, ancient or recent, I couldn’t say, that says: if you don’t like some-one or some-thing, you simply cut off all support.  If you disagree with something a certain person or group or corporation supports, you publicly and often times non-violently “take your business elsewhere.”

I must say, that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I strongly and passionately believe that non-violent acts of service and sometimes defiance is the only means by which real and lasting change will occur.  That said, those of us in the Christian tradition have often called for a boycott of certain groups and/or companies who either did or supported certain things that do not fit within the Christian law of life.  We have been known to boycott the purchase of certain stamps because they celebrated a Muslim holiday.  And since we’ve bought into the lie that ALL Muslim people are radical extremists who inflict terrorist acts on the US, we boycott without batting an eye… We have even singled out certain people, or groups of people and claimed that because we do not agree about some of the “hinge” issues of Christianity, we will prove our point by gathering our friends against those we disagree in a very public and humiliating way…

Now, please hear me say again, I think non-violence is the only way we will see real change.  With that being said, especially when it comes to a boycott, of sorts; as Christ followers, we’ve got to be extremely, EXTREMELY careful of our actions.  The first reason for our caution, I would argue, is because we are living in a post-Christian world.  The old argument, “the Bible says…” just doesn’t fly anymore.  The second reason we need to be careful is because too often we are not educated about what it is we are protesting and we make the cause of Christ out to even more ridiculous than it has already become.

He’s what I’m saying.  Let’s say a group of people calls for a boycott of a certain corporation because the executive officers of that company function outside of the “Christian thought.”  On the surface, that seems like a just cause since the underdog is standing up against the powers-that-be.  However, what this group of people who called for the protest didn’t do was educate themselves about some of the more inner workings of the company.  Though a difference in specific religious views may seem like a critical point of protest, there is something much larger happening under the surface.  This corporation, though they do not share the same religious ideals, is however participating in some much more important acts against injustice.  This corporation spends much of it’s excess resources fighting against the real suffering of real people in a real and tangible world.  Let’s use fair trade as an example.  The company buys many fair trade products which means that the people producing those products is getting paid a fair wage, enough to support his/her family.  Another definition of fair trade: we refuse to continue the cycle of slavery for my own comfort…

Do you see where I’m going here?  There are just things to boycott: Those companies who employ slave or child labor to produce products.  There are also ridiculous things to protest: People who think differently than we do.  When we choose to be ignorant, people spend their energy working to prove a point and convince people to “think” like they do.  When we take the time to educate ourselves we spend our energies working to alleviate suffering in the world.  Do you see the difference?

Let’s try fighting against injustice rather than fighting against people.  That may seem a bit vague, but continue to let the thoughts simmer and stew for a while because in the end, I feel it will bring a lasting and powerful change.

Think Gandhi…

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