Friday, December 28, 2012

Reusable Locally Sourced Christmas Trees, and Should we boycott the Salvation Army for being Anti-Gay?

Check this out for next year's Christmas tree. Visit your local Salvation Army or community thrift store for reusable Christmas trees, without all the packaging you're stuck with if you buy one brand new.   The money you spend will go to the social programs helping people in your own community.  The trees are much cheaper than brand new so that will help your budget.  It's a win win!

If you don't have space to store the tree, why not donate back to Salvation Army in January for the tax write off?  Then buy another tree (and the decorations) from the Salvation Army Store next December.  Sure beats renting a storage space and having your poor forgotten Christmas tree show up on Storage Wars, eh?  

Enjoy the season!

And: I want to write about something related to this.

I posted this photo with a similar message on facebook earlier this week.  A dear friend of mine was brave enough to speak up and say that she refuses to support the Salvation Army because they discriminate against gays.  She said she refuses to buy popcorn from a Boy Scout for the same reason (apparently Boy Scouts are to popcorn as Girl Scouts are to cookies?).   I can understand why she would feel that way.

I think it's good for people to make political statements expressing their disapproval and to help bring about change.  I also think it's good for people to be true to themselves; if it feels icky and gross buying popcorn from a Boy Scout (kind of like buying a cupcake from a Nazi bake sale), then they shouldn't do it.  

But for me ... knowing that the Boy Scouts are MOSTLY about doing good things ... I'd rather help the little Boy Scout "make a sale" and build some confidence, so I'd probably buy some of his popcorn (if he's got any vegan popcorn; if not, I might buy the smallest amount possible and give it to my boyfriend, who isn't vegan and who would totally understand why I had bought it; that is, because I didn't want to disappoint the little kid).

And I'd rather buy eco-friendly reduce / reuse / recycle products at the Salvation Army, which is on my way home, walking home from the train station.  One time I found a nice sitting chair (a rather large one), made in the USA out of real wood, with nice and arms and soft cushions (looks to be about 40 years old) at the Salvation Army.  Of course, no wasteful packaging either!  I bought it for $20 and walked all the way home with the chair balanced on my head!    Can't get more eco-friendly than that!  Meanwhile the $20 is going toward the Salvation Army's programs to help poor people in our community.  

So ... shopping at the Salvation Army on my way home is something I feel really good about, even though they are a religious organization which probably has a lot of views that I don't agree with.  I'm guessing they are anti-women's rights and anti-gay rights, but the crux of their mission is to help the poor in the community.

Personally, I wouldn't feel right, boycotting an organization that is mostly in the business of doing good.

Here's another perspective on this issue:

I could say to people who boast about all the fun they are having eating meat, cheese, and eggs, just for social eating, not for nutrition: "How could you be so cruel and insensitive?  By your thoughtless food choices, you are responsible for heartless cruelty to hundreds of pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, and sea creatures! I know you do good things, too, but I refuse to support you because you are responsible for so much hurt and suffering in the world."  Some vegans DO avoid close contact with meat eaters because of this; some vegans even say they could never date a meat eater.

I feel that's what my friend is doing with the Salvation Army and the Boy Scouts.   She is ignoring all the good work they do and is instead focusing on this one issue.  Not to say that there's anything wrong with it, I do applaud her for standing up and make a statement; it's just not the same decision I would make in this circumstance.

But for me, personally, just because someone thinks eating meat and dairy is 100% cool, or that being gay means there's something wrong  / deviant / criminal about you, or that women should be forced to have babies just because they got pregnant, or that all people should have unrestricted access to semi-automatic weapons and machine guns, or that global climate change is not real, I would NOT automatically write the person off as "no good" and "not worthy of my support" due of these particular beliefs.  Even though I disagree with these beliefs, and even though these beliefs are causing a huge amount of unnecessary suffering and pain in this world. 

Not when I  know that the particular person or organization is *mainly* in the business of doing good things.    If the person or organization is mainly into spreading messages of hate and discrimination (World War II Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are some examples), then yes, I would condemn them or avoid them or boycott them as appropriate, etc.  Although, honestly, who knows if I would correctly pick the good guys and the bad guys.  Probably there were people who supported the KKK or the Nazis, thinking ... "Well, yeah, they're racists  about this one issue, but they do a lot of good otherwise ... " I wouldn't doubt that the Nazis and the KKK did all sorts of "charity work" that our history books tend to forget.  Back then, people could have used my same arguments about the Salvation Army to say that we should overlook their racism and go ahead and support the KKK or the Nazis anyway.   

So, it's up for the debate.  I totally respect other people (like my dear and brave friend) who feel differently on these subjects.  If you do feel that the Salvation Army or the Boy Scouts should be boycotted, feel free to speak up and say why.  My views are not set in stone, so feel free to persuade me.  :)

Not sure if anyone is reading this, but ... comments anyone?


  1. I ring the bells every year for Salvation Army. Then my son told me this year about their anti-gay position. It made me cringe because I have gay friends and family, and I feel awful that it took some of them so long to come out. I still hear some of them enduring slurs.

    It reminds me of the times when people couldn't date or marry blacks. Now I have black people among my family and friends, including my daughter's boyfriend. Likewise, it was against the law to mix with Asians not so long ago. Now, who gives a crap? (Sorry... that just came out. LOL)

    But each of us has to make our own decisions. I'm (mostly) vegetarian and you're vegan, but I hope you're still friends with me. We see things differently about food. I draw the line with how humans are treated (although I am kind to animals), but you draw the line with how animals are treated. But both of us are good people.

    The answer is that we have to THINK about our decisions and not just go blindly through life. Even though our conclusions are different, I think it's most important that we do think before we act, and that we have solid reasons to back up our decisions.

  2. Donna, you are one of the kindest, smartest, funniest, and most beautiful people I know, and my boyfriend is the sweetest people you'll ever find ... but you're vegetarian-ish, not vegan, and he's not vegetarian at all. Many people would say that I am not vegan either.

    So yes, I don't go along with the idea of picking one issue and using that to decide whether this organization or this person is worthy of my support and friendship, etc. Look at the whole picture, and then decide.

    I don't send money directly to the Salvation Army, but I do send money directly to the San Francisco / Marin Food Bank and Alameda County and San Francisco Meals on Wheels. Both of these organizations are providing food for the poor in our community and for our senior citizens. Meanwhile, I know of some vegans who refuse to support the Food Bank or Meals on Wheels because then some of the money goes to buy non-vegan food (paying directly for cruelty to animals). Yes, I see that dissonance, but I feel it's more important to lend these folks a helping hand right now, rather than waiting until these programs become completely veganized.

    I think we should all be encouraged to look at these things objectively, and with compassion, and make the choice that feels right to us.