There are African children being forced into mines in order for us to use computers and cell phones. There are Chinese teenagers working 36-hour shifts for little to no pay in order for us to get cheap clothing. There are women in Honduras forced to sit at sewing machines for days on end; getting threatened and possibly harmed by their almost as poorly paid supervisors. The list of people getting exploited so others can make billions and the rest of us can have cheap shit goes on and on. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and tell you how much blood you have on your hands because you bought a shirt made in China or because you left your car running with the a/c on while you ran into the store; we all contribute in some way to this sick system. Instead, I just ask that it’s thought about at least once a day, and ideally every time we contribute to slavery or death. It is incredibly hard to put two and two together when so much of what we do wouldn’t be possible without millions of other human beings getting exploited. I wake up in the morning and scramble to turn off the alarm on my cell phone, without questioning where the parts came from. I get out of bed, throw on some shorts that were probably made by immoral means and then pat myself on the back as I grab the shade grown fair-trade coffee that I paid a little extra for. I then turn on some lights and start the coffee machine, using the blood of the earth to help me see a little better and wake up a little quicker. This continues throughout the day, every day- and I consider myself someone who tries hard to make decisions based on my conscious.
I am not saying that we should all immediately give up everything that was made in some fucked-up way because I don’t know if that’s even possible. All I am suggesting is that we be aware of what we are doing, of our connection to other living beings spread throughout the world. I am suggesting that we stop and think when we see “made in China”. I am suggesting that we read things like this to at least have an idea of what is happening around us. I am suggesting that we start conversations with people who do not think about these things. I’m suggesting that we try our hardest to make small changes in our own lives. I’m suggesting that we see how many of these things – new clothing, bigger cars, and coal – we can go without, or even with less of. Change starts small; something stupid like buying second hand clothing, using a car only when necessary, or making efforts to get off the grid can be the start of something. I’ll leave with one of my favorite quotes of all time:
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment, but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zig-zag towards a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by million of people can transform the world.