Occasionally, when I post about a purchase, readers question why I’ve chosen to shop somewhere. And since I’m big on mindful spending, I thought a post on why I (mostly) don’t boycott was in order.
As a rule, I’m not a boycotter.
Which means that my shopping habits don’t fit with liberal OR conservative ideals.
(For example, I go to Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks. Though I try not to frequent either super often because it’s cheaper to eat/drink at home!)
Here’s are the reasons I generally don’t participate in boycotts.
1. It’s impossible to only hire/patronize people/organizations I completely agree with.
I don’t think there’s a company or organization out there that spends their money in ways that I am completely, 100% comfortable with or who practices business in ways that I totally approve of. They’re all a mixture of good and bad.
And even if I spent every moment of my life trying to figure out where my money is going, I still couldn’t know it all.
Maybe Proctor and Gamble has employees who donate part of their salaries to charities I disagree with.
Maybe my appliance repair man spends his money buying things I think are wrong.
Maybe the plumber I hired uses the money I paid him to support a cause that goes against everything I believe.
Unless I live on a completely self-sufficient homestead, I have to make peace with the fact that I can’t be sure that all of the dollars I spend are being used in ways I’m comfortable with.
2. A lot of boycotting isn’t about the product/production as it is about ideals.
If a product is made with child labor or slavery, or a product falls apart or is dangerous, it’s one thing to boycott that.
(This is why I say I mostly don’t boycott!)
But it’s another thing altogether to boycott something because I disagree with the ideology of a company. When I get into that realm, I’m sent back to point number one (It’s impossible to only buy from companies I agree with entirely.)
So I ask myself: Is their product/service good? Do they treat their employees well? Is the company environmentally responsible? Is their customer service good?
These seem like more helpful, relevant questions.
3. I don’t think boycotting is what Jesus would want me to do.
Jesus didn’t specifically address boycotting, but based on what he said and did, I just cannot imagine him thinking this is a good idea.
The Jesus who ate with tax collectors and prostitutes? And the Jesus who said we should love everyone, even our enemies?
I don’t think he’d say, “Well, have a loving attitude toward people you disagree with, but do your best to put them out of business.”
(Is that really the best way to love people?)
Or would he say, “Only give your business to other Christians.”
(Do only Christians deserve to eat?)
Besides, giving my business only to other Christians wouldn’t even guarantee that my dollars went where I want them to. I disagree with other Christians on things too sometimes.
4. Boycotting is very picky-choosy.
(At least, the conservative Christians variety is, in my experience. So, that’s what I’m addressing in this point.)
Do we want to avoid supporting things we believe to be wrong? Sure.
But (back to number one again), this is sort of an impossible task.
So we end up being oddly inconsistent. Christians worry a lot about supporting gay marriage, but are nearly unmoved over the slave labor that produces the chocolate we buy. We wring our hands over employee insurance policies while buying up products made in unsafe sweatshops.
And it seems to me that we spend a lot of time worrying about what people outside the church are doing, when we could be spending our time in much more productive, loving ways.
Worrying about the log in my own eye before I pick a speck out of someone else’s…well, the log-removing keeps me pretty busy.
Which brings me to my last thought…
4. I’d rather support than boycott.
Because the whole boycotting scene is so impossible, I want to focus on what I want to support rather than what I want to boycott.
Instead of picking out companies that I think are bad enough to boycott, I think about where I can spend my money in positive, responsible ways. This, to me, seems like the best way to love other people when I’m spending money.
So, I buy used stuff, I support local businesses, I buy well-made items, I try to shop at places that treat employees well, and I try to buy responsibly-made items (which sometimes means American-made, but not always).
(My American Giant hoodie. Love me some American Giant!)
So. I do the best I can to spend my money in positive ways and beyond that…well, in the words of Elsa, I just let it go.
How about you? Do you boycott? And how do you go about trying to spend your money in responsible ways?