Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Does the Guilt Stop?

I was reading my friend Tammy's blog about the art journaling prompt "diamonds," and thought she asked a really interesting question.

I do hope the history of my diamond does not include exploitation, murder, human
rights abuses, conflict, and war in Africa. Does anything we enjoy
and take for granted in our lives not have such a history? Isn't that our

The emphasis is mine, and it just really made me realize how I constantly think about that. Today I was at the thrift store and I bought a CD rack that was originally from Pier 1 Imports, and it was made in some 3rd world country and I just instantly thought "exploitation," and then wondered if I was any better of a person to be buying it in the thrift store than the person who bought it directly from Pier 1. Maybe that's not the way to frame it. I just mean, am I less guilty of exploiting 3rd world workers, buying this item second hand, than the person who bought it for full exploitative-big-corporation price? And I didn't think about this for ten minutes. It just went through my mind in about a second, like an unconscious response.

So, I don't know, I don't have the answer. But it's a good question to think about. Even if you don't like diamonds (I don't happen to).

1 comment:

Chris said...

Yes, this is on my mind a lot. I think, unfortunately, as one of the 'victor nations' the U.S. writes the history and takes the spoils, and we comply with other victors in doing so, and it's perpetuated down the line. Who suffers to make what I'm buying? It's very difficult to think about, because the questions never seem to end. How much do we really know, and is the information fair or slanted? Is it ultimately helping for me to buy this, or is it perpetuating a destructive system? More and more lately, I have tried to think before I buy, thinking, 'is this something I can't make for myself?' Is this something I really need? Am I giving in to a fleeting wish? Unfortunately, this is the responsibility that comes with awareness. It's still better than ignorance.