Lent Project 2023: Choosing to not make it worse

A camera with a long lens, viewed from the side being held in a man's hands

I don’t shop at Walmart – I haven’t been inside a Walmart in over a decade. I’m someone who much to the exasperation (sometimes) of my family, votes with my money. I know exactly when I decided to never be a Walmart shopper again – it was in 2012 after a fire ripped through a garment factory in Bangladesh. Prior to that, I tried to not buy clothes from places that did not pay a living wage. But when the Walmart (and the parent company of Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic) said that they wouldn’t pay to upgrade the fire safety in the buildings so a devastating fire like that never happened again – because it would affect their bottom line. Ugh. The coverage I saw said that even if these stores passed the price hike on to customers, it would be something like 10 cents on every t-shirt. And they wouldn’t do it. Boo. So, I find other places to buy things I need. Easypeasy.

When I was a wee lass, my grandmother used to read the National Enquirer every week. She had no misgivings about the worthiness of the news. What did she call them? Gossip sheets? Scandal sheets? Something like that. That was back before everyone had a camera in their pocket and a paparazzo had cameras that could take 25 images in a second. Now, bad actors like the Rupert Murdochs of the world do entirely unethical things to get questionable information that’s potentially taken way out of context or even completely made up. But people still buy the Enquirer and still sell pictures to them. I mean, anyone who lived through the death of Princess Diana knows how reprehensible the press can be – it’s that much worse now that there’s social media involved. I’ve been thinking about this because I recently read Spare by Prince Harry. He talked about how people will believe what they read, no matter how awful the source. Anyone who lived through Vaccines-cause-Autism and Trump’s science denial (and actual fake news releases) and Covid (please, friends, don’t inject yourself with bleach or drink horse de-wormer) know that anyone can publish anything, and there will be people who believe it.

In light of this, I was thinking about places where my actions contribute to the industry of bad behavior (at best), and damaging dangerous behavior at worst. I voted with my money in the wake of the garment factory fire. I decided to not ever again minimize the damage of tabloids (both paper based, and the clickbait of social sites like TMZ).

I know, what difference does my embargo on clothing stores that are terrible to their supply chain, or restaurants that are terrible to their employees, or my habit (or not) of clicking on a story to read where the stars of a show I liked 20 years ago are now, or why someone checked themselves into rehab or overdosed after they left rehab or whatever. I don’t want to help someone capitalize on anyone’s suffering. That’s a big lofty goal, I know that too.

I want transgender folks to be safe more than I want to play Hogwarts Legacy (or give JKR any more money or support for anything)

I want the workers who make my clothes to be as safe in their workplace as I am in mine.

I want the cooks and servers who work in the restaurants I frequent to get a living wage.

So yeah, this Lent, I’m thinking about the kind of ripple my actions make on the social justice pond. If you can’t make it better, at least don’t make it worse. Seems easy enough, amirite?

Extra Credit:

I’ve created landing pages for past years of Lent Project. You can access them from the Reflections Projects option in the menu bar. Happy reading, friends!

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