what if, you were to send your child or grandchild out today, to play, to ride their bike, to go for an innocent walk…what if two hours had passed, and in the midst of your hectic schedule you finally realized, “I wonder where they are, they should have been home about an hour ago.” So, you go look, you search, and your scavenger hunt comes up empty. Your child, the love of your life, the innocent one who sleeps ‘safely’ every night under your roof, is gone…no more kiss good nights, no more “I love you’s” no more walks through the neighborhood… your child is gone, someone took away the one thing you love…
what if you found out, that this beloved child of yours was taken to a far away cocoa farm… what if you found out, that same child was given a large machete that he did not know how to use and told for 13 hours a day, he was going to have to pull large pods off of trees in the heat of the African sun, while being beaten… what if you found out your child may get to ‘eat’ once a day in order to have fuel to make it through the day… what if you found out that at the end of the day, your child or grandchild who could barely walk from sheer exhaustion, was used as sexual sport by the plantation managers…what if you found out, your child was going through all this, because in another part of the world, other kids, much more ‘important’ and valuable kids, had a lust for chocolate at really low prices, and it was your kids lot in life to provide this for the other kids… Then, you got the worse news of all, in order to rescue your kid, you didn’t need to hire some sort of a guerrilla swat team, you didn’t need your country to declare war, but all you needed to do, was convince people to stop buying the chocolates these little kids make – that’s it. Easy? Well, it would be easy if we lived in a world loved humanity over the lowest price.
This is a true story, that happens every day, except the story is reversed. It’s our kids, it’s our need for the lowest price, it’s our inability to say, ‘no’ that enslaves these other kids, these kids that are ‘less important’ than our kids – it’s our kids, it’s us, that are eating the blood stained chocolate, and year after year after year, we turn a blind eye to this reality.
When I talk about this (and other things like toys and clothes), I hear every excuse under the sun, the problem with that is, we live in an age, in which ignorance is chosen (for the most part). However, out of all the excuses I hear that make me want to go tough mudder on someone, the one that bugs me the most is this: “my individual purchases of chocolates, these toys, these clothes are not going to really make a difference?” Now, history proves otherwise, and we know that true power lies with the consumer. But let’s just pretend you are right, I still want to say, “what does this excuse say about you, your heart, your view of other kids, other people? Because you’re single decision to not buy, say a Hershey made chocolate, won’t shut down or change Hershey’s, it does promote it, it does feed it, and it does say, that since you can’t change the unethical practices of a company, you might as well participate in them.” I’ve gotten to the point I’m ready to boycott family and friends functions, holidays, outings and parties that use slave made foods in the name of convenience, price, or forgetfulness.
Anyway, thank you for putting up with my rant, but another excuse I hear often is, “I didn’t know“, unfortunately we live in a world that does not allow this excuse to live long. In fact, there is so much information out there, all you need to do is do a casual google search, and you will find what you are looking for.
So here’s the deal from now until February 14th, there will be more chocolate, clothes, toys, and jewelry purchased than the rest of the year combined. The truth is, there is not such thing as neutrality on this subject – you either participate in it, or fight it! If we can get enough people to purchase ethically over the holiday seasons, we can start a tidal wave that can’t be stopped, the Arab Spring should prove this to us, but even if we don’t at least you get to go to bed at night knowing that you were active in moving the freedom of humanity one step closer to a reality.
So, I’m always asked, “what can I do to fight human trafficking?” I always give the most unpopular, but most valuable answer, “start with you, start making ethical decisions no matter the cost: no matter what you have to give up; even if you have to tell your kids ‘no’; even if that means you have to teach your kids to read instead of rely on mr. leap frog; even if you have to eat 50% less chocolate than you normally would; even if you can’t make that same cake you do every other Thanksgiving or Christmas some mom, some dad, some kid on the other side of the word deserves that from you, because if the story was reversed you would want that from them.”
So, here are some tools you can use NOW to live more ethically this holiday season, starting with halloween:
- For a list of fair trade Cocoa product click HERE
- Not For Sale app for your iphone or android that allows you to scan bar codes, click HERE
- Read Slave Free Chocolate, HERE
- Buy your chocolate online, HERE (I’ve had this stuff, and it is GOOD)
- Download Slavery Footprint, by clicking HERE.
- Read this other very helpful blog by clicking HERE.