What’s really terrible about exploitation is that when we exploit, we exploit the poor, the helpless, the downtrodden, those who are already suffering.
The Wall Street Journal’s recent reports on the earthquake in Chile stated that local rescue crews are already exhausted. Perhaps they are already exhausted because, as reported a couple paragraphs further into the article, the price of a loaf of bread at some location is up as much as 1,000%.
When you are starving, when your kids are starving, you’ll pay anything. But, when someone’s starving, when anyone is starving, doesn’t compassion scream to us to just give, give, give? I can’t stand the thought of a father coming into a bakery, his face stained with sweat, perhaps tears, to buy some food for his kids, only to find that ‘a,’ he can’t afford it, or ‘b,’ the baker is going to charge him all that he has. I get that the baker is probably thinking of his kids; I get that. But my prayer is that we’d learn that love is hard work.
The means do not justify the ends in this scenario. True love thinks through each action. And I guess this is why we rarely practice it, because it’s the kind of thinking that gives you a headache, it’s the kind of thinking where the answers are not always clear, and if they are clear, they are often very difficult to act on. There are rewards for selflessness – and not just in heaven, but on earth too. Selling the bread at the normal price would help him, and his customer. Or, I don’t know, maybe there are other creative solutions to give in the midst of a lack of necessary commodities when a natural disaster strikes. I read about a restaurant in Haiti that began to act as a soup kitchen promptly after the quake hit. They began giving all of their food away – no charge. As more and more people heard of their compassion on the community their was reciprocal response. People began bringing all the food they had to the restaurant to join in serving … because everyone was suffering.
The price of bread probably doesn’t affect the local rescue crews all that much, but, honestly, it’s the little things in life, it’s the simple in thought, difficult in deed decisions in life that make the biggest difference.