So, I recently learned many of the minerals used in the production of cell phones are mined by an enslaved workforce, many of them children, by those who wage war in the Congo. I am paying for war with the purchase of my phones, though indirectly, so are we all. How is this different from the sugar industry that fueled a new addiction for the middle class over a century ago? I use sugar as a comparison because we were all healthier before we got addicted to that product that used slavery in it’s production.
Desperation and poverty might be the kindling for the fires of cruel regimes but one of the by-products is the complicity of the idiot classes, of whom I am a member. I say “idiot class” because as North Americans and First Worlders (as opposed to Third Worlders, ack I HATE imaginary divisions for human conditions) we believe this sort of “thing” about a product we depend on (and yes we use the word “love” when we speak of our phones) this negative “thing” is something that doesn’t exist if we don’t think about it. Even better, don’t know about!
This is where I get preachy:
We need to repair not to replace our technology. We need to share the costs of extracting the resources (and understand what they are, environmental, social, monetary) and we need to not supply money to those who enslave a workforce to pay for war. We have our potential as consumers to make change. And as we are not really idiots, we can change the trend of consuming. We can make changes for the greater good. We have done it before and we can do it again. It can be joyful too, create all new ways of caring and sharing, unlike how I feel about my phone right now.
Staying vigilant that our representatives are navigating with clarity by the star of compassion, limiting growth and celebrating all success towards this end we can overcome our idiot class status.
Conscious consumption takes power from all devils big and small. Media consumption need not feed only our idiot need for a buzz, it can inform us, in small doses, we are fragile after all…