Left Justified: Post-election reflection

Some of my evangelical brethren expressed their amazement at how angry we Kerry supporters were. “I didn’t think you guys could be so passionate about a subject,” said John, a born-again friend of mine.

I have to admit he was right. I didn’t expect the liberals to be so passionate, especially about a dour-faced patrician from Massachusetts. But whatever the outcome (this is being written before the election results are in), I hope and pray that the majority of people will accept the count.

With the end of the elections comes the beginning of America’s favorite religious season: shopping! And I want to encourage all of you to be very careful what you spend your hard-earned money on. There’s a lot of crap out there, and we’re going to need cold, hard cash in the coming winter months. No matter who wins the elections, the oil companies, whom I believe have been holding back, will be stumbling over themselves to push the price of energy through the roof.

So when you start looking at your Christmas shopping list, please consider spending your money in places that deserve your dollar.

First off, church bazaars and nonprofit stores, including thrift shops, deserve your patronage. There, you will get more bang for your buck; not only could you be lucky enough to find that really special gift, but when you pay for it, the money will be used to fund good causes.

I, of course, recommend that you shop at the Peace Store, a gift shop at 623 7th St., where once was housed a pornographic bookstore. Through the efforts of a lot of people, there was a healthy transformation, and now you can buy things from peace, mission and environmental groups from around the world. The Peace Store is open every Saturday from 10 until 4. The volunteers will be happy to show you around.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, the Peace Store will host a Used Art Sale, which is notorious for selling beautiful artwork at ridiculously low prices. You can still donate any used art you may have lying around the house, just call (815) 964-7111.

But besides my favorite store, you can frequent the Abilities Center, Salvation Army, Keeper’s, and Crusader Thrift Shop as well as a host of gift shops focusing on fair-trade, organic and environmentally sound products.

Fair trade means the item that you are purchasing was traded fairly with the producer of that item. For example, if you travel to a Third World country, walk into someone’s home and buy something they just made for whatever they ask, you have just traded fairly for that item.

Recently, people associated with mission groups, peace and justice organizations and environmental groups have been purchasing fair-traded items from around the world. That means they either purchase from, or set up, cooperatives where the employees are fairly treated and sometimes even own the means of production themselves. Oftentimes, these businesses are given small loans to purchase better tools and materials. Sometimes the product is designed to sell in the American market, but most of the time the items come straight from the producer’s home.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, the Peace Store will host a 10,000 Villages display of such fair-traded items. 10,000 Villages is a trading organization set up by the Mennonites. They insure that their items are fairly traded and produced. They make wonderful gifts—baskets of all shapes and sizes, Christmas ornaments, blankets, jewelry, musical instruments, candles, picture frames, dolls, purses, bedspreads, a plethora of gift ideas, and some include pictures of the people who produced them.

I’ll try to have a longer list for you, but please keep your fingers crossed for a better environment, especially during this holiday season.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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