Socially conscious shopping…nineteenth-century style

“I felt that it was inconsistent to condemn slaveholders for withholding from their fellow-men their just, natural and God-given rights, and then by purchasing the fruits of the labor of their slaves, give them the strongest motive for continuing their wickedness and oppression.” ~ Levi Coffin, in Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

I recently learned about Levi Coffin (1798-1877), a strong Quaker abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad in Indiana. His home—the site of a railway station—in Fountain City is on my list of places to visit. In the meantime, I encountered his quote above in an exhibit on the Indiana African American Experience at the Indiana State Museum.

His quote is timeless, speaking to those in the twenty-first century as easily as the nineteenth. To talk the talk is one thing. But to walk the walk? That is an entirely different matter. An ideal that I too often fail to live up to.


2 thoughts on “Socially conscious shopping…nineteenth-century style

  1. Yes, that’s a timeless quote, although I haven’t heard the word “wickedness” for awhile.
    Who we are can be defined by where we spend our money, where we spend our time, where we focus our attention.


    • Words can define a place and age, provide a flavor of the era but fall out of use with time. Wickedness is definitely one of those words.

      Whenever I hear these words of yours about being defined by our money, time, and attention, I full heartedly endorse them, thinking they are words of wisdom. However, to be honest, I only sporadically do a mental inventory, questioning what I am spending my time on. A little bit less energy on where I am focusing my attention. And even less on where I spend my money. Again, easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk.

      By extension, money, time, and attention can also reveal what is important to you. Maybe I am afraid to see that, sit with it, and then do something about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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