403: Is Saving a Few Dollars Worth Your Humanity?

Thanksgiving is drawing near for those in the United States.  Regardless of your religion or ethnicity the holiday season will be starting soon in many parts of the world.  With it comes rampant consumerism and unparalleled spending. 

Yet, at a time when thoughts are meant to be about Love and togetherness many people have forgotten that their actions will have a huge impact on their wellbeing and more so on those around them.

On Thanksgiving in the United States families, young and old, hopefully get together to enjoy the love they share.  Tables are lined with familial treats and traditions from homecoming football games to after dinner walks are enjoyed by many.  However, that is not the case for everyone.

In an effort to sell more, many retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving, tempting consumers to walk away from tradition in order to save money on holiday bargains. 

These stores place profit over people.  By deciding to be open on the holiday they need employees to work, employees with families and dinner plans. Retailers open on November 27th in the U.S. are subtly, if not actually blatant, saying that dollars are more important that lives of their employees.

However, the best news is that you have the ability to tell these retailers that their greed is something you will not endorse.  Not just on Thanksgiving but every day of the year.  You have the ability to impact decisions of major companies with your dollars. 

That is one of the great things about capitalism, you decide the fate of every business with your dollars.  Where you spend your money determines what stores will grow and which will fail.  Better still, you can actually shape the culture of a company with your patronage or lack of same.  Most of all, you have the ability to help everyone.

                   there is an amazing trend forming that references the power I jus spoke of.  While it is not certain what prompted the change, many retailers are closing their doors not just on Thanksgiving but on “Black Friday” as well.  Outdoor equipment retailer REI is not only going to be closed Thursday and Friday but their web site will be unavailable for purchasing products online as well.  Those who log on to their site to purchase goods will be met with a message that not verbatim, informs the buyer that in order to truly endorse the spirit of the company they suggest you enjoy the time with your family and allow their workers to do the same.  To further encourage you they state that instead of staying captive to your computer on their site that you get outside and take a hike enjoying the outdoors.

To me that is one very impressive step to turning the tide on retailers callously trampling on the meaning of the holiday.  It’s not just REI that is urging people to enjoy their families, many other retailers are getting on board too.  Go to the show notes and see a list of the companies that are supporting a day off from shopping.

The biggest excuse I hear many people make is that their boycotting a store is not going to make a difference so they might as well get a deal for themselves.  That is shaky logic at best.  Suppose you found out that even grosser injustices were being perpetrated at a company. Would you still hold to the “ I am only one person” rationale?

For instance suppose you found out that a retailer used sweatshop labor to make the clothes they sell?  What if not only were workers making cents an hour to make clothes, but those workers were children?  Would you still think your patronage wouldn’t make a difference?

First off, there are places where children are exploited to make many things not just clothes.  While that thought is absolutely abhorrent in the U.S. it is commonplace in other parts of the world.

While workers being asked to work on Thanksgiving may not seem to be on the same scale as imposed child labor it is the same in regards to your values and your wellbeing. 

Consciously or not when you support companies that do not respect the rights and the welfare of their employees you are saying that you do not respect the rights of all people.  Suffice it to say that is not an energy that you wish to incorporate into who you are.  On a grander scale that level of disrespect that you engender by supporting these injustices will become part of who you are.  The disrespect that you take on will then be emmited subtly and subconsciously from who you are.  As is the case you will then gravitate situations of disrespect to you.  Certainly that is not something that anyone would wish to have happen to them.

There is also an rationale that you can’t possible know all of the companies that are acting callously and disrespectfully.  That too is shaky logic.  You may not indeed know all of them but you will know more if you do some research online.  A beautiful, positive aspect of the internet is that now no company can hide in the shadows.  A quick Google search will bring up any nefarious companies.  You know the clothes you buy right?  Start at a store level and then filter down.

For instance,  A simple google search on a store level would begin your research.  Enter “[Store name] labor violations” and look at the results.  Gauge the authenticity and see if there are multiple results that pull up.  If you see a store with multiple results about infractions it is a safe bet that the information is accurate and not possibly the result of one person.

In regards to the United States and Thanksgiving, do the same thing.  Tell stores with your dollars that you do not appreciate the disregard that they have for employees by being open on Thanksgiving.  Don’t shop at those stores, that day or any day. To further cement your conviction send a letter to these companies letting them know your dissatisfaction.  It doesn’t need to be lengthy.  For instance,

“Dear Sir or Madam,

I have spent much of my income at your store.  However, that was before you  started opening on Thanksgiving.  This gesture represents a clear indication that you value profit over the welfare of your employees.  While you may counter that they are making time and a half or even double time, that fact is irrelevant.  You should be paying all your employees fairly so that everyone, salaried or hourly, has the opportunity to embrace the true spirit of the Thanksgiving.  While I look forward to your response please note that I will discontinue shopping at your stores indefinitely and will urge my family and friends to do the same.  It is my hope that you reconsider your policies regarding Thanksgiving so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the love of family. 

Respectfully, [Your name here].

Of course, hold fast to your values and boycott those stores.  It may represent an inconvenience but I am also sure it is also inconvenient if not downright sad for a family to celebrate the holiday with some members missing from the dinner table.

To bring this into the light, to focus on the positive, know that you are one person.  Yet one person can indeed change the course of history.  Many have and many will.  You are a person who respects all life.  You can be counted on to do the right thing, the thing that demonstrates respect for all people.

So before you sit down with your family or loved ones take the time to see who is open this upcoming holiday and boycott them accordingly.  Strengthen your resolve by sending the email above letting them know why you are.

Then when you are feasting, surrounded by the love of your family, you can be sure that you took steps to make it possible for someone else to do the same.

Resources

Stores that are open on Thanksgiving day

Support these stores that refuse to be open on the Holiday

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