This paradox is so dumbfounding to me – to wrap my head around how I can scroll through my photo viewer looking at pictures of my precious boys, my generally happy life and then see photographs that bare testimony to how my comfortable existence is at times, directly linked to the suffering of millions of people in our world.
I cannot ignore it.
I can’t even change it – not all of it.
I can acknowledge it and do what I can to live responsibly and with compassion and humility. It is no easy task for someone like myself who has grown up in the privileged first world where I can live freely. Freely – what does that even mean? Sometimes, we Canadians even start to feel oppressed – our government doesn’t have our best interest in mind; we are charged inflated prices for our electricity and hydro not to mention what the cell phone companies slam us with.
And it is injust, it isn’t right. But I am reminded again and again that these types of struggles can either serve to spawn more dissatisfaction, more grumbling, more anger, more unhappiness….or, they can be reminders that we have the luxury of living with such amenities! Again, not so easy when you open your $200 cell phone bill and $76 internet charges. But it’s all distraction because as long as we’re absorbed in our first world issues, we don’t have the time or energy to realize that we’re buying clothes from a line that pays pennies to workers as young as 12 years old in Bangladesh. And those people are the paid, to say nothing of the millions of people who are slaves all day long, every day of their lives.
And yet, we would rather not see this? Because it makes us uncomfortable? Because we cannot do anything about it?
YES, WE CAN.
My husband says we vote with our pocketbook. The day we refuse to buy Joe clothing or any other line that justifies the means by which it obtains its merchandise, even through the blood, sweat tears and yes, death of others, that is a day that humanity is one step closer to reclaiming the piece of us that is not superseded by selfishness and apathy. It is the day we demand to know not just what country our goods come from, but what type of working conditions produced them. It is the day we pop our “ignorance is bliss” bubble and seek to make a difference in our own lives as small as it might seem or be.
How does this make you feel? What will you do next?
Shine a light, take a stand, don’t turn a blind eye.