Connections to violence

So anyone who reads this blog probably knows by now that I write a lot about conflict resources. I have been scanning the mining news and other humanitarian sites for many years now, and the more I read and follow, the angrier I become.

I am angry because the abuses are so vast and I am disgusted because we as Canadians are so intricately involved in violence around the world and seem to not know about it, or worse, not care. We focus instead on providing relief from the problems we are helping to cause.

I have finally begun to share some of these news stories regarding conflict resources around the world on twitter (@miningconflict). I hope you will all follow it and send me links to new stories if you find them. This topic is one I choose to focus on, because it is the one place where we as Canadians are involved and I feel can make an actual difference without having to directly interfere in other governments or people’s affairs.

I have issues with “development“. I see it as a form of neo-colonialism. I also have issues with many humanitarian causes that can be unsustainable in the long run, vertical and even victimizing. For me, the best way to be a humanitarian is to change myself. I don’t need to go and help in some orphanage or school, or give money to some charity and often feel conflicted with both. I feel I can do far more with my choices than any money or service could ever “fix”.

By choosing to take a stand against supporting more violence and speaking out against it I feel I can be far more effective. I feel that stopping the problem needs to come to first. The saddest thing to me is that most people in Canada have no idea how much violence the Canadian government or Canadian companies have caused and are still causing worldwide, because I know they wouldn’t knowingly support these abuses. There’s little we feel we can do. There’s really no one-stop conflict-free shop (though that would be wonderful!). The government follows its lobbyists more than its constituents– and our letters seem useless.

Make no mistake about it. Our Canadian mining interests are helping to fuel violence around the world. Our stores are filled with products that have blood on them. Why do we allow this to continue? What can we do to change it? It NEEDS to be changed. And we need to do that from our end.  We need to say, we will not use products that have caused violence and we will tell the company of our choice. We need to say, we will not import products that have caused abuse or violence. We need to say, it will be illegal for our companies (and government) to cause abuse or violence in our country or abroad– and we will make sure that the legalities will actually be enforced.

We do have control over some things here in Canada. We have control over what we purchase. Over who we vote into office. Over what we voice our opinions on. These  far, far away countries are not more violent than Canada by accident. There is no magic separating “us” from “them” that makes Canada less violent. We are not somehow more advanced, or “developed”. They are not more prone to violence because of some inherent violence within them or some longstanding ethnic conflicts that we just somehow avoided here. We are connected to much of their violence. We are part of it with the choices we make each and every day here in Canada. This violence is structured. And it’s all about profit and power. Colonialism never really left us– only new masters are now in charge. Resources are still the main game.

The sooner we realize this, the better off we all will be. As long as incentives to violence remain, the longer the violence will remain. As long as we continue to “develop” countries into one progression of consumption where capitalism reigns, the longer the violence will remain. The longer we interfere and try to “fix” instead of seeing the problem amongst ourselves to “fix”, the longer the violence will remain. The only thing we need to “fix” is ourselves. We in North America need to fix our material obsessions. We need to stop being only consumers of things. Our consumption is ensuring others live in poverty and destruction while we live in luxury. We (our government) need to stop giving endless loans to warlord-like dictators who ensure it will be subsequent generations who will pay for their power. We need to to have accountability for our actions. We need to stop stealing resources away from the earth at alarming rates and funneling the profit to those who bring violence. We need to change our structures so they are fair and equitable to all. So that all have equal voice and say in affairs that concern them. This is not a “third”-world problem alone. It is a world problem. We all are the problem. And we all need to be the solution. We all need to sacrifice and change and make peace within our own lives.

What can you do about global violence? First- Stop consuming so much stuff! Contact the companies you purchase from and ask them to stop buying raw materials or manufactured goods that have fueled violence. Write to the government. Speak out about it. Tell everyone you know! And pass this message on!

Some Canadians are trying to find legal solutions. Bill C-300 is an important step in this direction. Please read up about it and speak out about it!

If you want to write to the government (and I’m hoping you will!), here are some people to try writing to:

John McKay, MP. Liberal Party of Canada, MckayJ@parl.gc.ca– responsible for bringing Bill C-300 to Parliament.

Kevin Sorenson, Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, SorenK@parl.gc.ca
Angela Crandall, Clerk, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, faae@parl.gc.ca

or Write to:

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A6
Canada

The Prime Minister – pm@pm.gc.ca

The Foreign Affairs Minister- cannon.L@parl.gc.ca

The Leader of the Opposition- Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca

Other party leaders in Parliament-  Layton.J@parl.gc.ca; duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca

Find your Member of Parliament here.

And find your MPP here.

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