The company started by providing full time jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica…their artisan community “has expanded from Costa Rica to El Salvador, India, and more. Now 200+ artisans can depend on steady income in positive working environments, thanks to the support of Pura Vida bracelets customers.” They have partnered with “over 174 different charities around the world and have donated more than $1,440,822 to causes they believe in!” While looking for a “cool” college-age Valentine’s gift for my daughter, an Instagram Ad caught my eye – puravida bracelets. I followed their link and was quickly sucked in to their coolness. They support artisans and charity. Not only did I buy Emma a set of bracelets, I ordered some for myself. I’ve been feeling pretty good about my purchases and new online store to shop/support…then I read The Rebel Sell.
“Instead of encouraging useful activities, such as pushing for new legislation, would-be leftists are left to participate in amorphous, pointless demonstrations against “globalisation,” or buy fair-trade coffee and free-range chicken, which only substitutes snobbery for activism.” Boom! There it is! I felt convicted. Have I fallen into the trap of snobbery over activism? According to Elizabeth Wasserman from The Atlantic Magazine “The concept of countercultural rebellion and its elusive twin—cool—have resulted in a status competition that has driven consumption to unprecedented heights. It’s not conformism that leads us to spend, spend, spend on the unnecessary and the ephemeral, but its opposite: the quest to distinguish ourselves from the masses through our enlightened, hip, or just plain rebellious consumer preferences.”  In my defense, I don’t insist on purchasing “organic” brands or free range meat (especially since I live in an agriculture community and I can purchase my chicken, beef, and pork right from the farmer). It is fascinating to note that these authors are looking at social problems of contemporary society, including social construction of taste, the importance of cool as a positional good and the discussion of alternative lifestyle. “They are angry at a deception that they feel has all but destroyed the Left. The critique of mass society and the myth of corporate world domination, they argue, have led to a loss of faith among progressives in the very idea of political reform.” References to social theory in Heath and Potter’s text link back to our prior reading of Contemporary Social Theory
Speaking of the authors, they both hail from Canada (breaking out into a rendition of O’Canada in my head). “The Rebel Sell is a brave book. In places it is also unfair, light on evidence and repetitively polemical. But the argument it makes is important and original. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, both young Canadian academics, think that for nearly half a century critics of capitalism have profoundly misunderstood their enemy. Worse than that, the authors argue, these critics have – sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not – provided modern capitalism with the fuel it runs on.” The homeland of Heath and Potter is important because “social justice has a long history in Canada dating back to the nineteenth century. Often tied to the idea of creating a more equitable society, and therefore a “socially just society,” many of contemporary Canada’s social justice groups and institutions originated with Canada’s entry into the industrial world.” “In Canada, the peaceful, evolutionary tradition of socialism prevails.” Canada’s long history of social justice also applies to immigrants and refugees.
Do you remember the iconic day when President Donald Trump moved to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries in January 2017? Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out this tweet: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” Trudeau received backlash from his “open arms” statement when in a seven month time period more than “11,300 people have crossed into Canada by foot from the US. The pace has picked up in recent weeks, with as many as 250 people a day – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – entering the country at remote, unguarded locations. Doing so allows them to skirt a longstanding pact that bars most refugee claimants in the US from applying for asylum in Canada.” While Trudeau’s statement may have created political and logistical bedlam in Canada, his commitment to social justice and advocacy would be heralded by Heath and Potter. I too recognize my responsibility as a United States citizen, social worker, and Christian to advocate for social justice. Advocacy comes in many forms in my world but could be simply stated as “case and cause.” “In case advocacy, the aim is to redress power imbalances and promote the rights of individuals who are marginalized or vulnerable” whereas “cause advocacy addresses systemic issues and involves lobbying efforts aimed at policy or institutional restructuring.” Through my clinical interactions with clients, mentoring/modeling while teaching and community interaction through church and volunteer organizations I focus on advocacy by “case”. My research topic of refugee resettlement and resilience is directly connected to my desire to focus on a social justice “cause”. This effort should be one small step towards further advocacy – lifetime advocacy – whether with refugees or mental health parity, gun reform, poverty, or systemic racism. What about you? Are you ready and willing? After all, Micah 6:8 clearly states
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
 Carlisle, S. (2000). Health promotion, advocacy and health inequities: A conceptual framework. Health Promotion International, 15(4), 369-376.