This I Believe

Jill - Verona, Pennsylvania
Entered on January 1, 2008

I believe that the only power I act as an individual is by voting, by buying products from companies and business I believe to be ethical and by treating others the way that I would like myself, my family and my friends to be treated.

I am an educated voter who votes in every local, state and national election for which I am eligible. By educated, I mean that I try to find out as much as I can about who is running for which position/office and make an educated decision about who I think will be the best and most qualified person for that position/office. Making educated decisions can take time, but I find that the internet has greatly reduced the time it takes me to research what the elected positions involve and who the candidates are who are running for those positions. I also try to identify what the candidates’ personal and professional history is in an effort to get a general idea of their stability as a person and if they are an incumbent, to see what they have and have not voted for in the past. I write to my elected officials about causes and concerns that are important to me and let them know that I will watch to see what actions they do or do not take to address those issues. I believe that actions speak louder than words. I recognize that compared to the influence of lobbyist groups, I am probably a “drop in the bucket”, however, I truly believe in the definition of a democracy, whether or not that is what I perceive our current reality to be. It terrifies me that more people vote for an American Idol than vote for our president and I do not understand how so many people are so apathetic to issues that directly impact them.

I believe that I can make a difference in the world through what I purchase. My husband and I are committed to buying as many items as we can either locally or from independent businesses that sell fair trade, environmentally friendly and made in the U.S.A products. I am not sure anymore if one person can change the world, however I can choose as an individual what I buy and where I buy it from. In general, it is not cheap; however, I have found the quality of the products and the customer service to be superior. In addition, it feels good knowing that the individual who makes or grows what you buy is earning a fair wage and has the opportunity to make an honest living. Of course, we have not gone on a real vacation in over three years, but I honestly feel the sacrifice is worth it. A person who works at a restaurant we regularly go to was recently telling us about his trip last year to visit his family in India. It just so happens that there is a shoe factory in the area his extended family lives. Long story short, he told us about a pair of shoes that are made there. Including materials and labor, this pair of shoes is made for the equivalent of $4. That same pair of shoes sells here in the U.S. for $120! I can’t remember if the $4 also included the shipping or not, but even if it did not, that company is still making quite a large profit. It just seems that some companies keep getting bigger and bigger and keep paying their employees less and less. It is not right. It is not fair. I may not be a millionaire, but I can choose to not support companies who either treat their employees unfairly and poorly or who cause harm to the environment.

In closing, maybe I am an idealist and the entities opposing me are overwhelming, however I have to believe that I have some sort of power and control over what happens in the world and ultimately, what happens to me. For me, not having any power or control over anything means losing hope and allowing yourself become a victim. I refuse to ever be a victim. I know what happens in the world can be horrible, but I also know that there are some ethical businesses and good people that are also in the world. I believe that change happens one person, one family, one community and one town at a time. I honestly believe that we as individuals can change things; we just have to know what is really important to us and to make a commitment to sacrifice the time and money needed to support those causes.