Thursday, July 24, 2008

How we live, impacts people around the world

One aspect of the building of community is living with an understanding that how I live, what I do, who I am, impacts people in other parts of the world.
As the saying goes hindsight is 20/20, here is an article that dramatically illustrates this principle in a sad, negative light. A rare metal, of which I have never heard, coltan, is used in certain electronics components such as some capacitors and the Congo is a major source for this metal. According to Toward Freedom, in the 2000 launch of the Sony PS2, high demand of this metal by Sony helped fuel the astronomical rise in price from $49/pound to $275/pound. And this sharp increase in price helped fuel conflict and slave labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Involved were players such as Rwandan government sponsored militias to western mining companies, all funded by a debt-based, consumer materialistic mindset in "rich" nations.
The demand for coltan has cooled but if we are shortsighted and motivated by personal gratification then there will always come another point of conflict over the supply of some other resource to meet the demand.
We have got to be aware of how our desire for the latest, greatest, fastest whatever might be affecting people in other parts of the world. Questions such as this come to mind - Can my brother in the Congo afford one of these? Can he afford to buy food for his family to eat while I enjoy my latest luxuries?
How many are giving their lives in conflicts to mine the raw materials necessary to make this thing?
This is why we must increase in our knowledge of the truth and have the wisdom and foresight to be led by internal principles of what is right not what is merely convenient or desirable, so that we can avoid this situation of looking back at what went wrong.

1 comment:

Barbara Clark said...

Stephen, your comments are thought-provoking and enlightening. Several of my students are refugees from the Congo/Rwanda area. I do need to be aware of the effects that my choices have on other people-but feel so insulated and ignorant. Thanks for sending the link to your blog.