So allow me to ask some tough questions. How many give out of sincerity and not just the notion of reciprocity? Let me push a little bit further by asking how many give realizing the true costs of the gifts they give? Did a small child work tirelessly to make it? Is it possible a young woman died so that you could have it?
Our heavily commercialized holiday season bombards us with fat Santa’s, shiny bling and the latest and greatest tech treats. Our culture turns the dial to the max with the ‘buy, buy, buy’ mentality, rather than ‘think about the process this item has gone through to get to you.’
The truth is, if you gifted a cell phone, laptop, iPod or digital camera this holiday season, you helped contribute to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
What conflict, you ask?
The ongoing war in the Congo. Having claimed the lives of more than 5 million people and displaced hundreds of thousands, this war is fueled by the excessive sales of electronics worldwide.
How? The complicated, yet simple explanation goes like this: militia’s in the Congo earn millions of dollars per year by mining and selling minerals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold to middle men who then sell to electronic manufactures globally.
The winners = profitable electronic companies with no accountability and the vicious militias that continue a cycle of violence.
The losers = innocent Congolese civilians and the American people who unknowingly contribute to systematic rape and murder.
Remember supply and demand from Econ 101? The more we demand electronics, the more these products will be produced. I’m not suggesting that we stop using them — that’s unrealistic and absurd. However, we as consumers hold the power to demand that our electronics are conflict free hold companies accountable for the minerals they purchase.
As advocates for women’s rights in addition to human rights, we cannot forget those who suffer for our indulgences. There is a human cost of our purchases and honestly, no cell phone, iPod, or camera is worth it. Just sayin’.
You can’t take back what you purchased, but you can move forward and take action.
I leave you the conflict free gift of a song by Thrice that changed my life when I first heard it seven years ago. The lyrics still give me chills but I hope it gets you thinking.
This post brought to you by Maureen.