Jesus warned His followers, and those who would, to first count the costs. In other words, think long and hard about the life they would abandon, and the new one they would take on. Gone would be comfort and security in material things, the expected comforts of an unruffled life. Instead they could expect deprivation, insecurity, persecution and death. [Paraphrasing Luke 14:25-33 and Acts]
But my point is, I think it’s great advice, and not only in application to a life following the Master. I think it is a good idea for each of us to count the cost of such daily mundanities (it’s a word) as the way we spend our time and money. In particular, the clothes we buy.
You see, clothing costs have risen steeply in recent years. There are as with anything a number of factors. That’s not my point here. One answer has been to design clothing using cheaper, thinner fabrics (I’m sure you’ve noticed your favorite t-shirt get thinner, and all the new “burnout” fabrics–another way of saying “we used 25% of the thread as in previous garments!”). Another old cost-cutting standby: cheap labor.
By now many have heard about subsistence wages and dangerous working conditions for garment workers in Third World countries. Perhaps you thought the problem went away? It hasn’t. The latest tragedy, a building housing garment factories and shops in Bangladesh, collapses, killing hundreds. The building was deemed unsafe and an evacuation ordered the day before, but factory owners insisted employees come to work anyway. Not a first-time incident for Bangladesh garment workers; hundreds more have lost their lives trapped inside burning garment factories.1
Whose fault is it? Well, it’s partly mine, and yours. You see the companies using these factories are those we like to shop at for inexpensive yet stylish clothing: Wal-Mart, Kohls, JC Penneys, The Children’s Place for instance.
It is time to count the real costs of buying cheap clothes. We need to be aware that the money we save buying cheap clothing is really a much larger cost passed on to the subsistence wage earning factory workers placed in dangerous work environments. We get to gloat over our savvy purchase prowess. They get to bury their dead. We get to live in the comfort and security in material things, the expected comforts of an unruffled life. They can expect deprivation, insecurity, and death.
Jesus said not to worry about our clothing. He said to love our neighbor. And who is our neighbor? The one to whom we show mercy. [Luke 10:25-37]
1 - http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57581673/bangladesh-factory-disaster-how-culpable-are-western-companies/