2013-04-29

Life's Lessons and Moral Law

It seems that recently, perhaps even increasingly recently, there is no shortage of events upon which to ponder. Pondering often leads to reflection on one's own actions.

Take, for example, the most recent tragedy in Bangladesh where nearly four hundred 1,127 factory workers are missing and presumed dead as a result of the collapse of the building in which these poor souls were working. Just the day before, yes, the day before, a review of the building warranted it unsafe due to large cracks that appeared in its cement structure. Clothing manufactures, which occupied the eight story building, called there workers in regardless of the danger.

I share this story because one of the manufacturers produces a line of clothing carried by the local grocery store in the town where I live. It's a kind of one stop shop, where you can buy your canned goods and cleaning supplies one isle away from the latest trendy cotton plaid button-down shirts or neon colored exercise gear. Part of the reason why the clothing is so popular is because the price is right, especially for the college students who flood this town.

But, the right price comes at considerable cost, especially to the spouses and children who have lost a loved one in the building that now lies as a heap of rubble.

As Catholic Christians, we have a moral obligation not to partake in the buying of merchandise that is made through the exploitation of another person's labor. When factory workers in Bangladesh earn poor pay ($38US dollars per month) and work in unsafe conditions, we are literally profiting off the backs of these workers by buying an item whose price does not represent a fair exchange of value for their labor.

In moral theology, there is something known as natural law, which states that human interactions are governed by a set of ethical norms that are intertwined with the structure of the universe. In other words, they are not man-made. The Holy Spirit has infused into us a knowledge of good and evil. All humans have this knowledge.

Therefore, one must ask, if all humans possess these ethical norms then, why were these poor workers let back into a building that posed such grave danger? Furthermore, if we are aware that the goods available in our stores are manufactured in a manner which is not in keeping with moral law, then, why do we continue to support the very mechanisms that enslave our brothers and sisters?

The answer is, quite simply, a lack of love. If we loved our brothers and sisters, we would not support the systems which perpetuate their enslavement.

Peace,

Peter's Bride

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