Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's too easy to forget that our actions have consequences

A typical Loyola student might wake up to the sound of a Chinese-made alarm clock, put on his or her Malaysian slippers, and drink a cup of Guatamalan coffee. Then that same person might put on a polo shirt (made in Egypt) and some Nike shoes (made in Indonesia). Later, that student might get into a Japanese car running on Saudi Arabian gasoline. That night, after the person's computer freezes while instant messaging, he or she might be put on the phone with an Indian technician.

Globalism - it seems like you can't escape it these days. American companies have factories all over the world producing all sorts of goods. And we love it. Never have Americans had so much STUFF, and never have we wanted MORE. Free trade, foreign factories, global markets - who doesn't like it? I doubt David Jose Carranza Calle likes it. After all, he was kidnapped and tortured by men who ordered him to disclose the location of his father, a Coca-Cola worker and leader in the SINALTRAINAL union. I wonder if, as he was being brutalized, he felt happy to be a cog in the machine of global capitalism. I wonder if he was proud to suffer so that others could make ends meet turn a hefty profit.

So what - Colombia is thousands of miles away, right? And working for Coca-Cola FEMSA is better for those poor people than working in the fields, isn't it? Aren't we helping them? The world loves American capitalism and all the blessings it brings upon them, right?

Oh yeah, there's that. ^

Have we grown so unfeeling that we can accept the abuses that occur as necessary evils in the survival of our way of life? Have we moved toward a society so watered-down that dissent, anger, indignation, protest, outrage, and civil disobedience are socially unacceptable?

The truth is, that if you don't stand up, we are finished. This whole project will be a lost cause if you don't cry out, demand change, and call for justice. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. That's what Gandhi said. Do you think that if you sit down and wait for change it will come? You must see it, want it, and take it.

But before we can do that, we have to look at our own lives. If I walk into school telling about the evils perpetrated by the Coca-Cola Company while taking a swig from a Sprite, I am no position to demand change. First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye. I want to ask that each one of you make a personal committment to stop drinking Coca-Cola products. It's easy to forget that our actions have consequences, but when we hear the cries of the oppressed, we must respond.

The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them. -Lois McMaster Bujold


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