Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Consequences of Being an Uninformed Shopper

This post is the start of a series of information from a speech I gave for a class last year. (It still remains in the speech format)

Sixty-nine percent of you (my class) said you relatively do not know where the products you buy come from. You may know that you bought that banana at Wal-Mart, or that shirt from Express, but you have no idea who made it or who worked in the fields or for how much.
Even a popular clothing store, The Gap, in 2004 admitted to widespread problems - from unsafe machinery to child labor violations - in the thousands of factories it uses around the world to produce clothing (Teather). Today I would like to share with you the issue of passive consumerism and how through our multiple purchases, things like child labor, under pay, and adverse working conditions go unnamed.

Surprisingly child labor still exists in the world today. An estimated 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working around the world according to the International Labor Organization (Batstone). An article in USA Today, reported a discovery of children as young as 10 sewing clothes for clothing retailer Gap Inc. in a New Delhi factory (India). Children working at such young ages mean that they are not being educated, ruining their future to get a better job. Not only are they working, but The Child Rights Information Network states that 126 million children from the ages 5 to 17 work in hazardous conditions (Child).

Not only are children forced to work, but also the entirety of the work force is being affected negatively. Much of this is due to the fact that we want things cheap causing those providing all of our stuff to get paid cheaply. Also due to lack of funding or care, working conditions are harsh. Companies like Wal-Mart supply many resources. This means that many workers are paid up to 30 percent below their country's legal minimum wage (Creating). We know that when companies outsource they are able to pay workers less because the country’s standard of living is much less. Yet many companies are not even paying to match the country’s standard of living.
Workers also are forced to work long hours; often 16 to 18 hours a day and do not get paid over time (Creating).
Women are not only underpaid, but in many cases paid less than men. They also deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, and workplace-related sexual violence (Rights).
According to the International Labor Rights Forum under its Wal-Mart Campaign they state that, “the health clinics that many countries require their factories to have often do not exist and workers are not provided with basic safety equipment, such as dust masks (Creating)”. In many factories, workers are required to have a pass or a permit to go for a timed bathroom break.

There is a problem and we are all a part of it. We all consume. Simply being an American most likely means that we consume a lot. Being human means we like things to be cheap. This desire for many cheap goods has helped child labor thrive, drove workers’ pay down, and taken the time away for regulations that ensure healthy working conditions. We unknowingly support this with our daily purchases.

Works Cited
Batstone, David. "Stop Child Labor - Cocoa Campaign." International Labor Rights Forum. 11 Apr. 2008. Child Labor. 12 Apr. 2008 .
"Child Labour." Child Rights Information Network. 2008. CRIN. 6 Apr. 2008 .
"Creating a Sweat Free World - Wal-Mart Campaign." International Labor Rights Forum. 2007. Labor. 2 Apr. 2008 .
"India Activists Decry Gap Child Labor." USA Today. 2007. News. 1 Apr. 2008 .
"Rights for Working Women." International Labor Rights Forum. 2007. Labor. 9 Apr. 2008 .
Teather, David. "Gap Admits to Child Labour Violations in Outsource Factories." The Guardian. 13 May 2004. News. 2 Apr. 2008 .

(The next post will have some solutions to this problem.... sorry this is not written like a paper format... pretend you're hearing a speech :)

Friday, March 13, 2009


Lives ruined by the cruelty of others.
The selfishness and the greed. The carelessness and the numbness. The pleasure and the thoughtlessness.
Power tricks people into thinking anything they do is okay because it is available for them to do. So they do.
And it is okay.

But it is not okay.

Everyone around them is missing something. Missing their wife. or their son. or their neighbor. or their leg. or their eye. or their house. or their food. or their hope. or their happiness. or their future.

I have not lost these things.
But I am lost.

I want to be selfless and giving. I want to be careful, but be free. and to be penetrated. I want to know and to reason. And to not have power so that I cannot be tricked. And to not have access to things I may do if only there were available.

The Mess

It seems as if we are all here cleaning up the mess we have made.

Some make the mess, others organize it, and others actually get rid of it.

The organizers sort through it; measuring it, processing it, condensing it, separating it, dividing all its parts until they understand it.
But it is still there. It is not gone.
The clutter is gone, but the dirt still remains.
And they are not in the mess.
They are not part of the mess.
They are overlooking the mess. Trying not to let it actually touch them. to not let it contaminate them.

Others are in the mess.
They are dirty. They are not clean.
They are far from safe.
Yet they are touching it.
They are feeling it.
They are letting it understand them.

And they are changing it.


It's too good.
And then it's too bad.
I want this. and I do get this, but I also get that.
But I don't want that. but it comes with this.
I can't get this without that.
So if I want this. i have to get that.


For some reason pain is such a deep producer of beauty. I think because it is penetrating. I can feel pain in every beat of my heart. My heart feels so heavy. Like every beat is punching my life down and down and down into the deep spaces of hopelessness. And not having hope is one of the hardest feelings to cope with.

After being punched for a while, if I have not been knocked down completely, I do whatever I can to lighten the beating. I try to release it in any way possible. My way is to create. Anything, anything, that means something. Then maybe the beat will rise me up instead of weigh me down and with that rise, so will hope. And hope is a beautiful feeling.


My body tries to leave its soul for a moment. I try to let them part ways so I do not actually feel that silent pain. That pain that consumes all parts of my body and almost shuts it down.

A Friend

I just wanted a friend. A remarkable friend. An endearing friend. And then to my surprise I got a more than friend. And then I got an ignoring friend. And I was left with a no friend. A seemingly I never knew you friend. And I still have not recovered.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Go Green

go green.
and blue and yellow.
and maybe orange and purple too.
and don't forget black and brown.

become that.
become this.
but don't become it.

come here.
go there.
but don't go everywhere.

forget this.
forget that.
but don't forget me.

be here.
be there.
be everywhere.
in me.
in you.
in everyone.

clap your hands.
stomp your feet.
jump around.
and don't forget to skip.
maybe hop too.

wrinkle your nose when you smile.
cry when you laugh.
shiver when you are cold.
and wear sweaters too.

feel everything.
feel joy.
but feel pain too.
feel alive.
and feel free.
feel deep.
feel wide.
feel high.
feel low.
feel me.