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Friday, September 05, 2008

An Examination of Conscience

I've been feeling rather guilty lately related to a number of reasons but primarily because I've been shopping....at Wal-Mart. I also spent a Saturday morning at, sigh, IKEA. I felt like I needed a shower after each trip (which thankfully I can do now since our tub and shower are installed.) Me, the one who totally believes in buying local, subsidiarity, distributism, hauled four kids into a Super Wal-Mart for back to school supplies and housewares. I spent hundreds of dollars on a table at IKEA that was made in a communist country where Catholics are persecuted. And despite reading 'Omnivores Dilemma' and 'Crunchy Con' in the last month, I picked up a bag of Tyson chicken at the supermarket.
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It's been three weeks since my last confession. In that time I have bought a ton of crap in the name of convenience and/ or sloth. I knowingly made choices that went against Catholic social teachings in order to save a buck. My efforts to become a self sufficient agrarian did not happen the moment we bought this house so I am guilty of the sin of despair. And I've taken the Lord's name in vain, repeatedly, driving through traffic to get everywhere from our home in the boonies."

Here's what my walk on the dark side has taught me.
1. Having stuff requires buying more stuff to take care of and organize the stuff you have. For example: Having kids requires lots of stuff. And not only do you need to keep buying them new stuff, family members will also buy them tons of stuff you don' t want. As a bonus, you get to store lots of old stuff to pass onto your younger children.
2. Today's suburbs are not equipped to support buying local. You can't just walk down the street to your local butcher/baker/candlestick maker. You have to drive, and if you're like me you don't want to drive around to 4 different places for 4 things with 4 children. You wind up going to one place to buy them all.
3. It's takes time to do the research to shop conscientiously. I know what's bad about factory farmed food but where around here do I find the good stuff? Where can I find reasonably priced furniture not made by child labor? Until I can raise it or make it all myself I'm stuck buying if from someone. And up to now, I just haven't had the time to search out all the local farm stands, organic livestock ranches or dairy goat operations in South Jersey.
4. Quality is more expensive and paying more money is hard. Yeah, I know the arguments- "But if you cut back you can afford the better stuff." "If you get the good stuff you'll be healthier and make up the difference in how you feel and medical costs." Blah, blah, blah-organic milk is TWICE as much as the regular stuff; DOUBLE. My grocery bills are going up and you want me to pay double?! I'm a tyrant with the drinks in my house, we drink lots of water but we still consume tons of milk. And I'm supposed to pay double?! Double?! Sorry, I just can't.
And now, my act of contrition;
"O My God, I am most heartily sorry for all my sins; and I detest these purchases above all others because they displease Thee, Who are infinitely good and lovable and I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to do penance for them and never more spend money on goods that promote sloth, gluttony, envy and anger. Amen."

For my penance I will;
1. Get rid of more stuff through Freecycle or Goodwill. (More thoughts on stuff later too.)
2. and 3. Find one local merchant and purchase some of my groceries from him/her while out doing other errand (going to church, taking kids to appointments, etc.)
4. Work on price book so I know when the quality stuff is on sale so I'll be more likely to buy it.

Thanks for letting me come clean. I feel better already.

2 comments:

John R said...

Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. Deinde, vade in pace et Dominus te custodiat semper.

Here here to getting rid of the excess waste that is the non-stop buying and consuming of goods. We're on the front lines of having to confront materialistic consumerism in our own families. I've come to actually loathe Christmas because of the endless, superfluous gifts being bestowed on my children from the relatives.

The Society of St. John (pity their demise) was onto the right idea. They wanted to build a Catholic town with the Church at its center and then have businesses and residences spring forth around it. A system of subsidiarity can only work if we restore real town centers with the types of various stores (a butcher, hardware, etc.)you mentioned. The left wing loonies do have a point when they oppose the intrusion of Wal-mart in places such as Cape Cod.

In the mean time, I think we need to adopt a gradual approach to getting off the grid and likewise pool together resources and ideas to make it happen. This is why I think a parish directory of businesses would be quite useful, because obviously no one could possibly do and have skills in everything - we need a pool of people who can bring their respective talents to the community level.

Of course, it would help if all of us parishioners actually lived in the same territorial parish boundary. Such is the sad state of suburban life.

Tienne said...

Oh, I could have written this post myself! Not Wal-Mart, but certainly Target, has received too much of my business lately. And it's exactly as you said: we're not set up to buy local and researching takes more time than I have with two kids.

I love your idea of hooking up with a grocery co-op! I've been meaning to do that...I should just get off my duff and do it.

And living simply is definitely a good way to reduce consumption. :) Thanks for the timely reminder!