violence on my mind.

I’ve never understood violence. perhaps it’s because i never had to face it until i was older. not old enough to understand it, but old enough to not be scarred for life. my childhood was happy, safe, loving and with every possible advantage a child could start with. that’s why i’m where i am today.

but many are not so lucky as i. they face danger every day. they know the feel of starvation, their bellies swollen from days without food. violence surrounds them. many children must roam in packs before nightfall to escape their prey by roaving gangs of thugs who would force them into captivity, torture, abuse, violence, and drugs. initiate them by making them rape their own mothers and sisters, then making them slaughter their village in the most degrading ways. then they make them burn the villages down, making them feel they are now alone– with no place to go and no family left to care for them. and they are turned into soldiers, fueled by snorts of cocaine and gunpowder and calmed by weed. feared into submission, eventually they begin to become killing machines on their own people. they are led to slaughter against government and other rebel groups who kill them as though they were adult soldiers.  i climbed trees and played sports and had family and friends…

and those who do manage not to die or hide from the destruction are only spared for so long. the raids will come back. they flee into the forests, facing starvation, dangerous animals, and the continuing violence for years to come. perhaps for the rest of our lifetime. 

we consider ourselves civilized. somehow different from the past. but we are the same– perhaps even worse. because today we hide the shame away. we pretend the problems do not exist and continue with our never-ending consumerism. we use our products, unaware of the effects the resources we use every day have on places on the other side of the world. we are not aware that they come from mines that have been slaved by communities, forced by guns and machetes to dig for copper, tin, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamonds, and all the other minerals that are in our computers, electronic equipment and luxuries. unaware that they have made profits to violently abusing parties making war.  

with as much as $20 million a month in profits from one mine or resource, who could resist? the main perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are profiting from war. the companies who buy these resources, and sell them to other companies are all profiting from war. they are making incredible profits. and are protected from crimes others pay dearly for with white-collar sentences.

if they are all profiting from war– what incentive do they have to make it stop?  there are many of these metals and minerals available in plentiful amounts in Canada. they are also available in Austrailia and several other countries. why do they obtain their resources from the war zones (or neighbouring countries)? because they are cheaper. because the company can then make more profit for themselves.

 the companies may claim that they get the resources from neighbouring countries– but there have also been many companies admit; they can’t be sure where the resources actually come from. smugglers come across the borders and sell them in neighbouring country markets through contacts. there’s no way to be sure. there’s also no structure in place to ensure this. it’s interesting because some of the neighbouring countries listed as supplying resources, do not even have mines for these resources in their own country. clearly, they must be getting it from elsewhere. perhaps from the warring neighbouring country where it is plentiful.

the kimberly process was brought out to stop conflict diamonds and resources from getting into our luxuries; becoming popular with the movie Blood Diamond. and everyone focused their attention to diamonds, unaware of the effect their cellphones, cameras and laptops all had on the world. these goodies that we all trade in so frequently for the latest gadget. unaware that our laptop caused death, destruction and chaos somewhere else in the world.

it’s time we became aware. these companies need to know that it’s not okay for them to continue making profits from violence. they need to hear your voice telling them that they must find a way to avoid using conflict resources for their products.

the market is driven by the demand (well, in theory). we need to start demanding these companies stop using conflict resources or stop purchasing them. these companies should use their profits to create structures  to ensure that they are no longer fueling violence. this will serve far better for humanity than any amount of charity they can give. it is their product line and they should have “ethical purchasing policies” that actually mean something.

if there is no profit to be had for rebels, companies and governments — there is no incentive to continue the violence.

we watch the violence on tv (or perhaps read about it here) and think. there’s nothing i can do. or i give to charity. but we need to do more. we need to write letters to our governments and the companies and tell them to stop fueling violence. if there is no incentive to continue violence– it will not continue. we live in a democracy here in Canada. supposedly. sometimes i wonder. do our politicians listen to us? or is it that we don’t tell them what we want? if we don’t voice our opinion and have it respected– whatever that opinion is– we do not live in a democracy. it is not the voice of the people. it is the voice of some.

we live in an age where communication makes us all soo incredibly accesible. information is everywhere. it is soo easy to write to officials by email. find out what’s going on, and write everyone you can. tell them what you feel, even if it’s- I disagree with this war or this law. you don’t have to go into details. just state your opinion. they must respect our opinion– or else we seriously need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of our democracy. politicians must be held accountable. but so must we.

**Please read the folder- “my quest for a conflict free laptop” if you’d like to follow my struggle to buy a conflict free computer. I have been looking for one for about six months and have yet to find one for sure! this will be a continuing update as i try more and more companies in my quest.


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