I know Amazon is an unethical place to shop. I mean, I watch Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, I read the news, and I have enough of a brain to figure out that if I ordered something yesterday and it gets here today, someone had to work unreasonably hard to make that happened.
And yet, I did another Amazon free trial. My husband had a family science night coming up within a week. He needed rubber bands and bouncy balls — no, I have no idea why.
I knew Amazon would have them, and I knew I could get them here on time. They had yet another Prime trial offer, this time for a week, and I clicked.
My kids are growing out of their clothes. We were going to go shopping Saturday. The nearest stores with kids clothes are 20 minutes away on a good day. We got another unexpected four inches of snow.
So we stayed home and ordered.
I justify this to myself. There is no place for kids clothes in my town. It would have been dangerous to drive. They really need the clothes.
This is all true. It’s also true that last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, a time to remind us of what’s important. For me, it’s also a reminder that I am, in the grand scheme of things, very small, and that the weight of the world does not rest on my shoulders.
This morning, I woke up to read a Daily Beast article on how Amazon warehouse workers call 911 because employees are suicidal.
I know a bit about suicide. I have lost an uncle and a cousin to it. I wrote an article at the News-Review in Roseburg, Ore., about a young man who died by suicide despite his family’s best efforts to get him help for his mental illness. The story made such an impact that our paper did a weeklong series on mental health in our county.
By the way, if you or someone you know is thinking of killing themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There is someone there 24 hours a day that you can talk with.
I wonder how my orders have contributed. I am not self-centered enough to think that I alone have caused this environment. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because no individual causes it. But our collective desire for cheap goods fast is taking a toll on the people who provide them for us.
Hasan Minhaj talks about the systemic problem with Amazon because simply boycotting won’t really do any good.
He’s right. It won’t fix the problem, that’s for sure. We need activism and a change to labor laws and corporate culture to do that.
He’s also wrong. Boycotting may not do any good from a systemic perspective. But it may do our souls good.
So for this Lent and beyond, I’m staying away from Amazon. And I’ll be contacting my lawmakers to encourage them to require humane working conditions. If I need something online (and given where I live, it happens), I will look for a small retailer I can trust.
I know it won’t be perfect, and I know I’ve been a hypocrite. But I can either stay a hypocrite or try to change.