Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
Small Change: Heal the Economy in 10 Ways
We need stuff on a daily basis. It is difficult to go through an entire day without buying something: bus fare or gas for the car, food, repairs, bills, rent, medicine, elder care, child care, and so on. Since the recession, many of us make our small change go further; yet our concern for the economy also sits at the forefront of our thoughts. Companies have outsourced jobs overseas to countries that have looser restrictions and poor labor practices. This situation causes people here to lose their jobs, and it causes others overseas to get caught in terrible work environments. The tech company Apple outsourced to Foxconn, a company infamous for their horrible conditions.
Some of us cry foul, but really we should take a cold, hard look in the mirror. In our drive for a bargain, we’ve overlooked cheap labor. We have helped create—and still contribute to—outsourcing, job loss, wage slavery, and unethical practices. It’s not a bargain when we short-change human life and labor. All is not lost: there are many small changes we can make to help promote a better economy here at home (wherever home is), and thus contribute to economic stability abroad.
10 Ways to Economic Stability
1. Look at the “Made In” tag.
Many of us look at the ingredients list in a food product—it only makes sense to read the “made in” tag and inform yourself of the choices you’re making. Are you supporting the local economy, or are you taking jobs away and supporting sweatshops? An informed consumer is a conscientious consumer. Buy items made in your country or from countries and companies with decent labor practices.
2. One item has many parts.
Even if an item was made in one country, it includes parts or labor from other countries. One t-shirt may have cotton grown in the USA, the cotton could be shipped to China and made into thread and fabric, and the fabric shipped to Vietnam where it is cut and sewn into a recognizable t-shirt. The “made in” tag will say Vietnam, but that is only part of the origin of that t-shirt. What do you know about the item and what do you not know? What do you want to support? Sometimes we must make a choice from a list of less desirable options, or even unknown options. We can still make beneficial differences when we consider the facts we know and educate ourselves about the facts we don’t know.
3. Buy from local retailers.
Only shop “big box” stores as a last resort. I’ve found many things at my local mom-and-pop hardware store that I can’t find at a “big box”—useful stuff like liquid paraffin and wicks for oil lamps which have given me reliable light in bad storms. I asked for these items at three big box stores and they looked at me as if I had flying green monkeys spouting forth from my lips. Often a local small business is happy to order something for you and stock it if they know someone will buy it. If you own a local business, highlight items you have that are made in your own country, and highlight your local artisans—these are selling points for conscientious consumers, and educate your customers why buying local is a great thing to do.
4. Be careful of “big-box” stores.
Most of the items there are made in China. On one shopping trip to a Home Depot, the only item I found that wasn’t made in China was sandpaper from Canada. I’d rather support Canada’s industries, labor record, and environmental practices than China’s. If you buy at a big box store frequently, contact the manager or write a letter to the store asking them to feature items manufactured in your country.
5. Buy from an artisan.
Commission an artisan to make items to order so you get exactly what you want. Your money goes into the mouths of a local family and your money makes for a stronger local economy. If you can’t find someone locally, look on etsy.com or network with friends, family, and local businesses. Ask around: you’ll be amazed at the connections you already have to talented people. Alternatively, become an artisan and make your own items, and trade with other artisans who have different skills than yours. If you are a local artisan, ensure that most of your raw materials and supplies come from ethical sources and use this as a selling point.
6. Buy from second-hand charity shops.
This promotes charity, supports recycling, and circumvents the sweatshops. Alternatively, buy from a local consignment shop: this supports small business, local economy, and recycling. Also, you can mend, repair, transform, or re-purpose older used items.
7. Trade goods and services.
Share and trade items or services with your friends, family, and neighbors. You have a few old paperback books and so does your friend: swap them. Trade a home cooked meal for yard work. Proofread someone’s resume in return for a crocheted hat. Pool your resources; learn of others’ expertise and tell them of yours. Start an informal exchange or co-op.
8. Grow some of your own food or herbs, contribute to a CSA (a Community Supported Agriculture local farm), or go to the Farmer’s Market. Buying local food can improve the environment by creating a smaller carbon footprint. Buying local food also means that you’re not supporting large farms that hire migrant workers for cheap labor. Local farms are less likely to carry Monsato genetically modified crops, and more likely to carry heirloom varieties. These small farms often have more sustainable farming methods than the larger farms.
9. Buy Fair Trade items.
Most items that are fair trade have some sort of graphic on them that says they are “fair trade,” because these companies want you to know that they are doing the right thing. Consequently you are doing the right thing by supporting them and buying their product. Fair Trade ensures that people overseas are paid a living wage for the goods they provide. Cheap labor cheapens human life. Slavery still exists in this world and buying from places that have terrible labor records supports slavery: wage slavery overseas is still slavery even if you do not see it. If a company has decent practices and donates a small percentage of its profit to charity, this is an even greater win for humanity. Growth of these companies encourages growth of ethical practices and diminishes vampiric, controlling, greedy companies. I love it when companies prosper by doing the right thing.
10. Avoid Paying with Credit
Or better yet: avoid overextending your credit. Buy stuff with the money you have: this way you are not overtaxing yourself or a larger economic system. Fiscal responsibility at home grows economic stability a penny at a time. When you need credit or loans, ensure that you can afford it and pay it back swiftly. Also, try to make sure that your credit company is ethical. If you’re angry about the large banks that the US government bailed out, vote with your conscience, write a letter to your representative, and avoid doing business with those banks. Don’t let the matter quietly slip into a realm of forgetfulness and complaisance because this allows corruption to continue.
Some of these practices are more expensive than others in the short term, but adopting them is a matter of survival. They will revolutionize our economy in the long term if we make the effort and encourage these thoughtful habits in others.
Aiding the economy does not mean rampant consumerism—contrary to what some politicians have said, buying tons of stuff only acts as a bandage and does not heal a deeper chronic economic problem. The economy relies on thoughtful consumerism in the long run. Sometimes this means paying a little more for an item that you need, but not only are you voting with your money, you invest in the economic future and promote job growth. The job you create might very well be your job one day. Don’t wait and rely on the government to magically create jobs—do it yourself through wise spending and spreading the message.
For those of us who live in the USA, Black Friday and Cyber Monday—two days of spending for winter holidays—is quickly approaching. We have the perfect opportunity to consider these ideas as we make our choices.
Relating Back to Religion
Most religions condone personal responsibility and helping others as not only a good practice but a necessary one. My religion, Natib Qadish, is no different. Conscientious consumerism is a part of ancient Canaanite ethics. One of the types of khats’a, misdeed, in ancient Canaanite ethics involves transgressions against common standards and laws, and transgressions against cultural practices. These common standards and cultural practices include not just what the Canaanites believed was right, but they also include adhering to standards and laws of the modern society in which I live.
With the Emancipation Proclimation in 1863, former slaves began the journey to freedom and equal rights in the US. The ancient Canaanites enslaved prisoners-of-war; this was on a smaller scale than what happened in the US during the 18th through 19th centuries CE. An ancient captured warrior of a foreign power which made war on a Canaanite city-state was fair game for slavery, however the Canaanites didn’t go to another land to get slaves intentionally nor did they outsource their labor to get around ethical labor practices: trade routes were long and perilous and this practice would have been as economically unfeasible as it was unethical. This doesn’t excuse slavery or make it a good institution in the ancient world; it was simply a standard practice throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Egypt. Standards have changed. Granted, if we were to demand cheap labor (but under safe working conditions), we have but to hire our prisoners in jails, for by thwarting standards of common good they have forfeited their rights. This isn’t so with the poor farmer in Guatemala or line worker in China.
Since the Industrial Revolution, unions have fought for sensible working hours, decent wages, and safer working conditions for all laborers. These matters are considered fair and decent by our local mores and laws. Some large businesses have sought to circumvent these issues by outsourcing for exploited labor, higher profits, lower overhead, and a cheaper overall product which will seem like a “bargain” to the average consumer. If the labor practices would be considered unlawful for our people here, then they are also wrong even if they occur on foreign soil. The same ethics must apply not just to ourselves but in how we treat others. In the Ugaritic texts of the Bronze Age, there is a national prayer for atonement which includes asking for forgiveness for transgressing against foreigners. Their lives, their prosperity, their wellbeing is not worth less than our own simply because they do not live under the same government. It is time to send that message clearly to big business in a two-fold punch by striking them in the pocketbook and supporting ethical industries instead.
Canaanite religion was built on acting in a manner conducive to communal good; by following in their footsteps, I try to do the same. The economic downturn was based on poor practices that encouraged greed: greed in big business and greed in ourselves as private citizens.
The bottom line is that we can quit screwing people and stop enabling businesses that do. We have the power; let’s exercise it.
1 Dabchu-Pagruma (month), Shanatu 85 (year)
This date reflects a date in the Canaanite calendar according to primary documents from the city of Ugarit, dated to 1200 BCE (3200 years ago). Each lunar month begins on a chudthu (new moon). Today is the 1st day of the month of Dabchu Pagruma, the first day since the new moon.The Canaanites made greater offerings to the deities during each chudthu and malatu (full moon).
Shekel from the city of Carthage, circa 310-290 BCE. Carthage is a colony founded by the Phoenicians, and the Phoenicians are a daughter culture of the Canaanites. Photo from Classical Numismatic Group. Used under GNU CC License, image found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carthage_EL_shekel_2250013.jpg
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