Monday, March 28, 2011

William Cavanaugh on Production

"As I write this, I stop to look at the clothes I am wearing: my shirt was made in Indonesia, my jeans in Mexico, my shoes in China.  My undershirt, whose label instructs me to 'have a nice day,' was made in Haiti, where a nice day for most people is a day when there is enough food to eat.  Most of us would never deliberately choose our own material comfort over the life of another person.  Most of us do not consciously choose to work others to death for the sake of the lower prices on the things we buy.  But we participate in such an economy because we are detached from the producers, the people who actually make our things.  Not only are the people who make our things often a world away, but we are prevented from learning about where our products come from by a host of roadblocks.  And so we inhabit separate worlds, worlds that have entirely different ways of looking at the material world.  The 'happy meal' toys from McDonalds's that we easily discard reveal nothing of the toil of the malnourished young women who make them.  We spend the equivalent of two days' wages for such women on a cup of coffee for ourselves--without giving it a second thought.  We do so not necessarily because we are greedy and indifferent to the suffering of others, but largely because those others are invisible to us."

William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008), 43.

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