apparently there is money to be made in Afghanistan…

Monday 14 June 2010

As if the U.S. needs any more reasons to continue it’s colonialist/imperialist/empire building ways, I read the following headline this morning:

U.S. Identifies Vasts Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

It gave me a good laugh.

Conspiracy theorists might say they’ve know about this for years, but even if it is a new discovery, why do we have “a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists” looking for this kind of stuff?

For those who say (this) war has no economic incentives, another blow to you, I believe.

the hands that have prepared it

Friday 22 February 2008

Last night I was in a group where a prayer was said before the meal. Now the pray-er said many thanks, including thanks for the food and “the hands that have prepared it.” Now I have heard that phrase hundreds of times before, but it struck me as odd this time because the two people who had cooked the food had already been mentioned by name. So even though it was probably just a few perfunctory words from the pray-er, it got me thinking: “Did she mean to pray for them again, or did it mean something else?”

And right then and there I realized how restrictive my thinking had been (as many of our thoughts tend to be) in including only the chef as the preparer of my food. I thought of the worker who had picked the lettuce and peas and broccoli that made up my salad. I thought of the farmers who had planted the various ingredients that had combined to make my dinner. I even thought about the people at the store and the drivers who transported my food as being necessary for my dinner that night.

Do you stop to think about where you food comes from? Maybe the recent beef recall has made you think at least a little bit about what your food goes through before it hits your plate. And maybe not. In all likelihood, you read the story and maybe saw the video, got disgusted, but soon forgot about it — maybe even before your next meal. I still vividly recall seeing the horrible conditions of many chickens raised for eggs and meat while watching the documentary The Natural History of the Chicken in a morning film class and then walking to the dining hall to feast on one of their best meals: juicy, sauted chicken breast. I saw the food and saw the irony of the situation, but at that moment I wasn’t yet ready to eliminate animal flesh from my diet (that came about a year later).

But what of “the hands?” The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a Florida group fighting for fair wages for the work they do to bring us a portion of our food. According to a recent Oxfam America post, workers earn only about $4.50 an hour on a good day. The CIW had been fighting with Taco Bell and McDonald’s for increased wages, a battle they won, but Burger King has yet to agree and continues to stall the process.

Whatever the reason, we are a people who have a hard time seeing beyond the immediate. In addition to the conditions of workers in our own country, we fail to recognize the horrible conditions of children and others in virtual “slave labor” factories around the world. We turn away from the atrocities of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine (among others) who suffer in the face of occupation forces. We recall not the homeless as we crank up the heat in our houses with rooms no one uses and forget the homeless as we throw away food because we took too much from the all-you-can-eat buffet. “Out of sight, out of mind.

So I encourage you to think about the implications of all your actions. Check the labels to see where your clothing was made. Investigate the route your food took to reach your plate. Read the stories of the oppressed, share what you read with your family and friends, and they go do something about it. Let us not feign blindness by merely closing our eyes or act like we don’t hear when we are really only stopping our ears.

There is work to be done; go and make a difference so that others might soon give thanks for that which your hands shall prepare.

Iraq in perspective

Monday 4 February 2008

U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 Iraqi Civilians

Usually articles like these just make me shake my head, sigh, and think, “Should I really be surprised?” But this time I let the headline sit with me a little longer, and it got me thinking about things a little differently.

What would the reaction of Americans be if the title said instead, “Iran Says it Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians,” or even better, “U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 American Civilians.” If they were American civilians — just normal people, trying to live their lives — that were mistakenly killed by the government of another country (or its own), wouldn’t there be complete and utter outrage? But why do we not have the same outrage for the killing of innocents in other countries around the world? A recent study suggested that over one million Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion began in 2003. That is equivalent to about 833 Holgate — the town I grew up in — sized towns. Or think about it another way: how many people do you know? Do you know one million people? Probably not. And what if every single person you know was killed? How would you react to that? And that still wouldn’t be enough…

I think a large part of the problem is that we remove ourselves so far from what’s happening that it becomes little more than numbers and statistics, lacking any kind of human context (I’ve written about this before). I recently saw Charlie Wilson’s War, and in it, the politicians don’t sympathize with the plight of the Afghan refugees during their conflict with Russia until they actually went to visit their refugee camps. I have heard of similar experiences from those who’ve traveled to places like Palestine, Columbia, and Iraq (to name a few). If it’s not right in front of us, it’s easy to ignore. But that surely doesn’t mean we should ignore it!

When people get interested and concerned about a topic, they pour energy into it and get other people riled up about it, too. We can truly create change if we actually see the horrors our country is committing and speak out that we want change. Are you willing to spend a little less time on the Internet or watching TV and use that time to let your voice be heard? I challenge you to speak out for the change you desire, no matter how far away it may seem now. Without our voices, what will ever change?