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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Society’s role between iPods and blood metals

“Lest We Forget” is the phrase of “Recessional” of a poem by Rudyand Kipling. It offers a warning about the perils of hubris. You should read it.

Most people will neglect the premise of this classic piece, but for me it evokes a piece of stinging truth about our generation and society. You ask how? One idea that immediately comes to mind is how we are mindless monsters. Mindless monsters, you say? Yes, Yes, I know quite harsh rhetoric for not even introducing myself first. Just think though, every morning we rise and shine, then take our weapon of choice. Yours? A BlackBerry? iPhone? Ohh how about an Ipad? You might drop that TV remote if you found out every click is like shooting a bullet through someone’s head.

As lame as it sounds, I do consider myself an educated consumer and I do find it important to read up on the companies and corporations that readily take my dollar. As any other conscious consumer will tell you, finding where your dollar finally lands can be quite a scary journey.

The Autonomie Project, a fair–trade fashion and footwear initiative, reported that what was once blood diamonds are now blood metals. You’d probably never think about how many individuals in Congo you have left maimed with every stroke of your key or click of your mouse. Finishing that term paper may have just filled a shallow grave? I know I know I’m being ridiculous.

Don’t stop reading yet, this really is about me and my constant guilt. Every once in a while I think about these issues and to be honest, it is quite easy to feel overwhelmed about my everyday decisions. After watching the occasional documentary that makes the foreign world seem so far removed, I sympathize with the reality that others must endure, but find myself realizing that in this millennium, we are way more connected in every sense of the word. Closer to that orphan, sweat shop, CEO, political movement, etc. Trust me this is no appeal for a donation or recruitment to enroll in a water-bottle army relief team. You know like the pictures on tv?

Anyways, my main issue with this problem is the denial. Denying the problem does not stop it. Resisting the thoughts will not unemploy the 50,000 children that work in the Katanga Mine in Democratic Republic of Congo. I know people do not want to hear this, but while these statistics and information can be heart-wrenching, thought provoking, or just a down right turn–off to some, they are the reality of the world that we live in and ignoring them will not end the flood of precious metals into our markets and eventually into our hands.

The even bigger guilt is that the solution can start with you. I am sure you have heard about the consumer choice and blah blah blah support local. The truth is everything is a choice.

So, what is this challenge that we must bestow upon ourselves? What exactly do you do? How do you live with it? Is there a choice and a way to live guilt-free? I may be a little too optimistic, but given a choice I am sure most individuals would choose make a more educated decision about who and what they support. The only initiative it requires though is simply a reading up. This is where I am going to lash out. You ready? The world literally is at our fingertips ironically with every click. Vast amounts of information are available in minutes, or seconds with Google’s new instant search.

And just to further emphasize my latter point. No one is expecting a revolution. I do not think anyone is expecting anyone once they read up to torch their ipod, iphone, or electronic products, but a solution does start by being aware. Be aware. Be aware of how you are connected to words and as much as one might overestimate the producing giants that may be. You do have a choice. You do. It may not be the easiest choice always, but the choice is that you do!

-Quenique Newbill ’11 & Mai Ha Vu ’13

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