Why Where You Shop Matters

Written by
on February 7, 2019

We did not watch the Super Bowl. My husband’s not a big sports fan, and I was never much of one either. I’ll show up to talk with friends, enjoy the snacks and critique the commercials, but those things have always been higher priorities than watching the game. #trueconfessions

But, something I learned at church on Sunday reframed the game for me. It’s the dark underside of events like this: the probability that our cheers cover the cries of humans being used and abused.

I like to focus on the positives, so I promise I’ll get there, even with a topic as heavy as human trafficking. But first, let me ask you the questions that were posed to me:

  • Did you know that every day innocent people are beaten and abused as slaves?
  • Did you know that right now there are more than 40 million slaves around the world, more than at any time in human history?
  • Did you know that slavery is a multi-billion dollar industry, estimated at more than 150 billion annually?
  • Did you know that 1 out of 4 victims of forced labor is a child?
  • Did you know that events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics present an increased opportunity for trafficking?

As horrifying as it is to consider these questions, what stole my breath and brought this home was the survey at slaveryfootprint.org. As I worked through the quick set of screens, I wondered what “my number” would be. How could it take 46 slaves to produce what I eat, wear, and own?!

As I dug deeper, I discovered the secret: it’s the supply chain. Which means, you and I have no way of knowing if our dollars are supporting slave owners or free women and men unless we know all the suppliers for every product we consume. Before you feel overwhelmed (or guilty), consider this: how awesome is it that the folks at Made in a Free World are doing something about this? What if we all took the quiz, learned a little more, and joined together to hold companies accountable? That just might be a touchdown, right?!

Prior to joining Young Living, I rarely – if ever – thought about the ingredients in my food, nor the materials used to make the products I buy and the clothing I wear. I knew nothing about labeling laws and what can be legally hidden in plain sight. Cost was typically the most important consideration – along with need – when it came to my buying decisions. Perhaps you can relate?

What an education I’ve received in the last six years! I liked the products because they worked well for me, but it was walking through the fields, touching the plants, meeting the workers, and observing the production process up close that sold me on the company.

There’s more than one reason Young Living’s “Seed to Seal” promise is so important. In today’s world, those companies that control the whole process are in the best position to ensure that their raw materials are not adulterated or compromised and, most importantly, that human rights aren’t trampled in the rush to create a higher profit margin.

Exchange of goods – business at its most basic – has always been a part of life. It started with bartering and morphed over centuries to the market economy of today. But the market can’t truly be called “free” if its goods and services are produced by slave labor.

That’s why where we shop matters. And it’s why I’d rather pay a fair (translation: often times higher) price for goods and services that aren’t cheapened by abusing or extorting those who produce them.

Because we know that Young Living is committed to paying a fair wage, improving the working and living conditions in the countries where they own farms, and supporting organizations like Hope for Justice through the work of the D. Gary Young Foundation, we feel confident buying all we can from them and encouraging others to join us in this. When I retook the quiz and removed the items we purchase from Young Living, the number of slaves involved in what we have in our home was reduced by about 25%. While that made me feel better, it’s not enough.

If I had learned these facts a few weeks ago, I would’ve cared but it still wouldn’t have hurt my heart the way it does now that I have the face of a survivor to humanize the statistics. Jessa was a young girl when our paths first crossed. I didn’t know her name or her story then. But after connecting with her again recently, I learned that she was carrying a very dark secret behind her smile. She shares a 5 minute version of her story on YouTube here.

She’s a survivor. And, despite horrific abuse of every kind, Jessa still believes God is good and that He loves her. Her story of rescue and recovery inspires me and gives me hope that we can make a difference. It begins by making a difference for one. Would you consider joining me in giving to this Go Fund Me campaign for Jessa as a way of participating in today’s abolitionist movement?

Oh for a generation of people who link arms and fight like Wilberforce to see the tide of slavery turned back in our day! May this be our prayer, as it was his, “Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me.”

Here are links to learn more:

  • https://enditmovement.com/
  • https://www.ijm.org/slavery
  • https://polarisproject.org/

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