There's a certain myth that many of us have bought into our entire lives. It's the idea that if we are not actively supporting a certain way or against that way, then we are neutral.
Over these past few years, from traveling to a few different developing countries and meeting some poor farmers. I discovered the food I was eating and the products I was purchasing were actually contributing to the systems of oppression and exploitation affecting millions around the world.
Neutral exists in many other instances but not this. There actually is no real neutral, because we are all actively buying things. We are all interacting in the workings of our transactional society.
After World War 2, America started excelling in many areas, and in particular one that changed it forever: Globalization. As the Industrial Revolution swept through America, production and our economy started booming. People were getting into the business industry and many were getting rich. Once America was conquered, it was time to explore the vast business opportunities around the world, especially in countries that were ripe for the plucking. Business men flocked to developing nations around the world starting businesses and factories to be worked by cheap laborers and taking advantage of the abundant resources available.
With our supply-demand based economy, businesses were pumping out whatever products the people would buy. Whatever the people wanted, the factories were creating. With such cheap labor and the ability to ship products anywhere around the world, corporations were becoming successful rapidly and the consumers were thrilled.
For the first time Americans were able to buy whatever they wanted for incredibly low prices. Strawberries, bananas, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables were available all year long, all throughout the country. It no longer mattered what was “in season” or not.
By the 20th Century, the working-class Americans no longer spent hours toiling in looms making clothing. These jobs were instead given to laborers overseas, processed and assembled elsewhere and then shipped to America to be sold. Because these international businesses were so new, restrictions and laws were not readily available nor easily enforced.
Corporations were so caught up in how to gain the largest profit, they began minimizing costs up and down the chain. Soon enough, business integrity for the workers went out the window and the rise of sweatshops and exploited labor began.
Not only are millions of sweatshops operated by Americans around the world, they also exist in our own country. “The Department of Labor indicates that 50% of garment factories in the U.S. violate two or more basic labor laws, establishing them as sweatshops.”
With Globalization, the food we buy in the grocery stores and in restaurants are now widely grown internationally, generally in developing countries by poor farmers. Much of the food we consume on a daily basis is cultivated by farmers in poverty, with a wage of less than two dollars a day, as they struggle to survive.
We live in a Supply-Demand Society. Whatever we as people demand and purchase, the producers in our society will supply it for us.
Our vote and our voice is in how we purchase. Whatever we buy -- we are demanding. What we spend our money on -- we promote.
It’s simple economics.
The realization of my non-neutrality hit me. My whole life I have been participating in a system established upon exploitation. I have been purchasing foods and products that use sweatshops, slavery, oppression and exploitation.
Every time I've spent money on those things, I was promoting them. I was declaring to the world that I approve of the exploitation to poor worker and that I want more of that oppression.
It's hard for us to grasp at times because through their clever use of advertising and marketing, the producers have stolen our power of Demand. Instead of consumers telling the market what we desire, we allow the producers to tell us what we want. This has led to an imbalance of power and as conscious consumers we need to take back our power of demand and leverage it as an agent for change.
As we continue this journey, it is imperative that out of our active global citizenship we interact with conscious and thoughtful consumption by starting with one dollar at a time, to leverage change and create a world where people don't suffer for the sake of our luxuries.
Before getting overwhelmed with these new concepts, we'll talk further on how we can engage practically in this way. These initial posts are designed to lay the foundational groundwork of understanding on what the current situation is and why we should interact in better ways.
*Remember to check out the Resource page to find a curated list of companies and organizations that are working hard in creating solutions for these issues.
*And if you're late on the game, check out the first post for the foundational reason for this blog and the About page to learn more about myself and why this blog exists.