|Where is your brother? Children making balloons...|
"Where is your brother? May this question from God spread through the city and our hearts, but above all may it enter the hearts of the Cains of today. Where is your brother, the slave? The brothers you are killing every day in the illegal factories and in the prostitution rings?"
We all know the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4 where Cain kills his brother Abel. "The hearts of the Cains of today." What a great statement. Who are the "Cains of today" to whom the Pope refers? Could I be a "Cain"? Where is my brother? Or even more difficult, who is my brother? Part of the problem today is that we don't know our brother and therefore we don't know how to love or even locate him.
|Computer parts waste|
Cavanaugh says, "Consumerism isn't so much about having more as it is about having something else; that's why its not simply buying but shopping that is at the heart of consumerism. This restlessness - the moving on to shop for something else, regardless of what one has just purchased - sets the spiritual tone for consumerism" (page 35).
|Out with the old, in with the new: a TV graveyard|
For those caught in the trap of consumerism, pleasure doesn't come anymore in the possession of the product, but rather in its pursuit; pleasure comes not so much in the having, as in the wanting. Once we have obtained an item, it brings desire to a temporary halt and the item loses some of its appeal. The consumerist spirit is a restless spirit, typified by detachment, because desire must be constantly kept on the move.
"We shop. They drop." Cavanaugh says. Literally. Stories are told about people being forced to work sixty days straight without a day off, twelve to sixteen hours a day for cents on the hour.
What to do about this? We all have to be consumers. There is no way around that. Knowing where all of our products come from and trying to get to know our brother in a factory 7000+ miles away is virtually impossible.
But we can change the way we allow the desire of pursuit of the next new and best thing disrupt our spiritual contentment. We need to somehow equate our purchases with the people who made it, understanding that the purchase in and of itself brings us into relationship with others. The relationships must be characterized by promoting the good of community with God and other people.
Discipling Marketplace Leaders seeks to affirm all workers in all walks of life, caring for them socially, environmentally, economically, and spiritually, and having them do the same for others. Our lives as Christians need to be about this quadruple bottom line - the way we live and the way we use our resources matters. Where is my brother? He may be far away and I may never know his name or his face, but I CAN care about him in the way I choose to live my life.