A few days ago, I wrote a post recommending watching movies about spending and debting as a way to increase awareness. Last night, I watched one of those movies.
“What Would Jesus Buy?” was a terrific and entertaining movie that transcended religion and even holiday shopping. It provided a fascinating look into our consumer culture. Morgan Spurlock, the producer of “Supersize Me” and lots more sardonic and satirical pieces, produced the movie.
Made in 2007, it splits its focus between showing us the consequences of our spending habits and following the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, and his excellent Stop Shopping Choir, who go around the country singing and performing to exhort people to change their ways. According to the website, “They are a radical performance community based in New York City, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands.”
Reverend Billy is trying to stop what he calls “the Shopocalypse,” a term that was originally coined to describe the chaos that ensues in every shopping mall across America on Black Friday.
In fact, isn’t that what our recovery from compulsive debting and spending is all about? For us, our version of the Shopocalypse (shopping/debting frenzy each and every day) is what drove us to our knees and into recovery!
The Ugly Truth
As much as I enjoyed the movie and agree with its message, I was left with some inner turmoil
Of course, the overall message that we pass on this disease of craving more more more to our children, creating a never-ending consumer culture cycle of feeding a bottomless pit of dissatisfaction was one I greatly appreciated seeing. The message that the holiday season could and should be shifted to include less merchandise and more memories was great as well.
But one of the movie’s sharpest messages is that by seeking the lowest price, no matter what (A.K.A. our most cherished retail and virtual “Big Box Stores”), we are aiding and abetting the despicable work practices in third world countries, which virtually enslave children and others while paying them negligible wages and forcing them to work nearly round the clock.
Recovery Brings a Challenge
So here’s my problem. Now that I can no longer debt, and must live within my means, that shifts what I can afford drastically. The problem is that products made in the USA may cost more than I can afford. The awful truth is that the pressure put on U.S. businesses by all this outsourcing has forced this increase.
When I had credit at my disposal, I deluded myself into believing that the sky was the limit. Ironically, I was far less socially conscious when I was binging, so it’s a catch-22. I could have “afforded” to pay more to do the right thing, but didn’t care. Now, I care, but am living on such a limited spending plan that I cannot afford to take a stand under all circumstances.
I’m grateful for the reminder to be mindful of trying to support ethical businesses and those that produce goods locally. But I know I cannot make the commitment never to purchase from companies who allow human rights violations in the making of the products they sell. I don’t like admitting this ugly truth to myself. But the good thing about the movie is that, by showing me the truth, my awareness has been reawakened and I can making different and better spending decisions to the best of my ability.
I see this as a Step 6 and 7 issue. As I practice making better choices, I can be grateful for improvement. Most important is that I don’t stick my head in the sand. And for me, that is what the tool of awareness is all about.