Thursday, November 14, 2013

the ethics of spiritual goods

A recent conversation has left me wondering about the social implication of spiritual goods coming from China (or some other foreign country). What does it mean when we decorate our homes with religious icons, banners, etc., made by individuals in these countries for sub-par wages, in unethical conditions?

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I'm sure that for many individuals this isn't something they worry about or even care to worry about, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. You see, I have this Buddha statue that I bought ages ago from a dollar store. Yes, a total score... $1 for a pretty golden Buddha. I was pretty stoked at the time.

These days however, I find myself always aware of the statue's origins when I look at it and it bothers me. Not that it's from a dollar store, but that it was made in unethical conditions and yet I use it as a reminder of my spiritual aspirations. Obviously my statue and my aspirations are at odds with each other!

The answer of course, is not to go out and buy more expensive goods. Let's face it, they're probably made under the same conditions.

So what do we do? I'd normally say turn to places like etsy and have a local artist make it, but these days etsy isn't a reliable source of artisan work. But even if it were, this is potentially a very expensive route. One could argue that less is more and taking the time to buy one high quality, ethical item far outweighs the need to fill a space with several items. However, not everyone is of the less is more school. I know that it's not much of a motto in my world (I keep trying but alas... I like the sparkle).

We could always take the time to make our spiritual symbols/items. But if we're not much in the way of artists, then this is more headache than it's worth!

Obviously I don't have an answer. This is something that everyone must decide for themselves. But on my end, I'm working on a less is more motto, for what it's worth, or a handmade motto, when I can, because my little Buddha statue is weighing heavily on my mind. While I won't get rid of him as that would be a different type of wasteful, I'd like to keep future purchases to more ethical modes of consumption. You know, practice what I preach and all that jazz!



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