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Ok.  I have a lot to say on this subject, but I have had a really shitty week, and this evening, to be good to myself, I went out to dinner and had a couple of cocktails, and I am not at my most articulate.  But I am going to give it a shot. 

First of all, we need to recognize that there is a great interdependency between all life on earth.  Those of us who live in the US eat food which is grown and harvested in other parts of the world.  We wear cloths made out of cotton that was grown and harvested in other parts of the world.  We use electronics that are populated by metals that were mined in other parts of the world, and we drink soda and eat soup that comes in cans that was mined in other parts of the world.  We use products that are assembled in factories in other parts of the world. 

We are connected.

When the food that we eat is harvested by people whose ancestors worked a piece of land for generations, but who are now living in a semi-feudal system in which they pay rent to sleep in hammocks on their ancestral land, and after 14 hour work days do not earn enough to buy enough food to feed their children, there is something wrong.  When we become dependent on metals that are mined by children, there is something wrong.  When the people who assemble our clothes work in factories that are dangerous fire traps, and when they die in massive numbers, there is something wrong.

We all do it.  If we live in the first world, it is really pretty hard NOT to do it.  But there are a few things that we can do in the sort term.

First of all, talk about it.  Talk about the factory conditions in Bangladesh,[1] the semi-apartheid systems in Guatemala, [2] or the Democratic Republic of Congo[3].  Most people don't know.  It is not that they don't care.  They really don't know that their lifestyles are contributing to death and abuse.

Secondly, buy locally when you can, or buy fair trade when you can.  Not everything.  There are no fair trade cell phones, and if you live in Florida, the local tomatoes are picked by workers who face exploitation similar to that in the third world.  But it is a start.  And talk about it!!!!

Thirdly, support fair migration policies.  We are all interconnected.  Very often, the circumstances that displaced workers in another country were caused by policies surrounding products that you buy. 

Fourthly, if you are in a position to invest in a 401K or other mutual funds, look for a "socially conscious" or "socially responsible" option.  Most investment companies have them now.

Finally, when you hear about corporate abuses, take action.  Sign petitions.  Talk to your legislators.  Write letters to the corporations.  You are just scratching the surface, but it is a start. 

Oh.  And most importantly.  Talk to people.  Talk to the guys who wash dishes in your favorite restaurant.  Talk to the day laborers.  Talk to the exotic dancers and the street walkers and the homeless folks.  They all have stories.  Some of their stories started here in the US, but for many of them, their stories started overseas. 

And post videos on youtube and facebook and forums.  Make sure stories are told. 
 1. Where more than a thousand human beings died recently, making a few hours a day in horrible conditions, assembling our clothing
 2. where Mayan people are forced to work their ancestral land, which has been turned into  monoagricultural farms serving corporations, or are evicted from their ancestral lands to accommodate foreign mining operations
 3. where civil wars and foreign invasions and genocide have all taken place in order to mine coltan to inhabit our cell phones
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Traveler Wise and articulate as always. June 07, 2013, 10:55:46 AM
Graybeard Some good advice there. How many will take it? June 05, 2013, 05:21:01 AM