I am a college student at an ivory towered, northeast, prestigious, and somewhat cloistered university. What really matters to me? Do I care that my expensive gadgets come from below standard, non-living wage factories? Does it matter to me what the national or international general economic standing is so long as I can learn about Aristotle and Socrates or other works which talk about and discuss the human condition and how I can eventually control it? Does it matter to me that while I stuff my face in the cafeteria there are plenty who go without for weeks at a time? While these scenarios seem so grim and are also so real the real answer to all of those questions is somewhat scary. You would think that all of these would truly bother me but in reality they don’t.
Before you start spitting at the computer screen wishing that your bile could hit me like a bomb let me be clear, these are very bad scenarios that, as humans, we should work to eliminate from the way we as the overall society act. However, the point that I am trying to make is that it does not matter what the reality is unless it affects how I act. I can be the most “hipster” person in Brooklyn wearing my tight pants and a beanie talking about equality and world peace; but the second that I purchase an iPhone or put on a pair of jeans made in sweatshop style conditions my entire credibility and my argument are blown clear out of the door.
I do not mean to say that a person living in the ivory tower which we call college can’t be a loving or compassionate individual who wants to make children go to sleep starving. Rather, I mean to polarize the point that we as a society are not living in a strictly black and white world. It is a shame, and in some cases a crime, how the Chinese laborers in Foxconn and other sweatshops around the world are put through grueling conditions so that the far fewer privileged can have a shiny new gadget in their possession just to show it off. However, there is a fair middle ground where the benefits start to outweigh the negatives. These middle grounds start to come when the people who put in their lives to make next to nothing start to see the reward for all of their hard work. While the comparisons are certainly uneven, there was a time when the United States and other industrialized countries had somewhat similar conditions of horrible conditions and a complete neglect for the normal laborer. However, as time went on, those blue collar workers were able to provide a better life for themselves and now their descendants live a much better life.
I must, then, revisit my shameful questions. In reality, yes, I do care that people are treated inhumanely and that there is a level of insanity in the way we as a human race choose to empower those who have nothing (by killing them until they can rise above their condition). But as a single person there is almost no other way to empower those people without contradicting my moral ideals and buying a product which allows them to start their generations’ long path to prosperity. The real question then is about the human race as a whole and how we act. Aren’t we awesome?