It's easy to make sacrifices for causes you believe in. It's more difficult to go all the way.
Example -- it's easy to encourage people to stop buying dogs at pet shops because 99% of pet shops buy from puppy mills. It's easy to take in cute little dogs to foster in order to save them from being killed at the Shelter and feel good about the difference you are making.
But when we learn about how cattle are treated, or the conditions under which chickens live to produce the eggs that we eat, it's more difficult to stop eating meat or to give up our omelettes in order to campaign for better conditions for food animals.
We sign petitions and write letters against the unethical treatment of dolphins who often die getting caught in the nets of tuna fishermen...but we still eat tuna sandwiches.
It's easy to protest against animal testing, unless scientists are using animals to test a drug that may be helpful to you or to someone you love.
We decry the treatment of elephants in circuses and zoos and donate to organizations like the Elephant Sanctuary, which rescues mistreated animals and lets them live out their days in a good place, but we still take our kids to see the circus, or to watch the animals at the zoo.
As altruistic as we like to believe we are, and as many good things as we do, we do have to admit that we are hypocritical in our good works.
Today I am thinking long and hard about information that I learned about today. I am going to quote liberally from this web site.
All food has some dark side we'd rather not think about. Eating meat involves killing animals, and that's not pleasant. Eating tuna kills dolphins that get caught in the fishing nets. But eating chocolate causes real human misery that can be easily stopped.
Did I really want to know about the tragedy of the making of chocolate. If I know about it, I will feel guilty unless I feel I am doing something to prevent it. But...chocolate???
Americans are the leading world consumers of chocolate. We import 729,000 tons of cocoa beans costing $15 billion annually and consume about 4 billion pounds of chocolate every year. Most of the consumer chocolate comes from Hershey and Nestle (USA) as well as Cadbury (UK), who buy their cocoa products from suppliers like Archer Daniels Midland who, in turn, secure their raw cocoa from Africa's Ivory Coast.
It's been 200 years since the abolition of slavery in most countries. But in the Ivory Coast, the slave trade is booming like never before. The UN estimates that 15,000 Malian adolescents are kept as slaves there.
Most of the enslaved child workers come from neighboring Mali, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. Young people hoping for work are easy prey for child traffickers who sell the children as cheap labor to increase the profits of large plantations.
It's easy to lure children from poverty-stricken families where parents sometimes sell their children to "recruiters" for as little as $1.50, assuming their kids will get a chance at a better life. Traffickers play on these hopes and dreams, spending up to two months in certain areas recruiting and even convincing parents to pay the passage fee from the village to the farms. "You can make a lot of money in the Ivory Coast that will let you buy a bicycle, clothes, or food for your family," is a bold but effective line that traffickers reportedly use to recruit young workers and legitimize their search. Unfortunately, the promises of being able to support your family or afford small luxuries are too good to be true.
But once they have been delivered to the cocoa plantations, it's too late. The dream of new opportunities and of helping their impoverished families soon evaporates along with their hope. Children often are made to work 12 hour days of hard labor in the hot sun. Their living conditions are crowded and often unsanitary. Often the receive no wages at all.
If you check out the web page, you will read the story of this boy, who escaped with a bunch of others. When they were captured (they almost always are), they were beaten over many days and the wounds of those children who survived, which become infected, rely on maggots to be cleaned.
It's not a pretty story. It is a terrible story.
But it's chocolate.
How dedicated am I to the eradication of the enslavement and beating of children? Am I willing to be as dedicated to saving children as I am to saving dogs?
Am I willing to give up chocolate, knowing that my contribution will make not one whit of difference, but knowing that if enough "me"s give up chocolate and tell the industry that we are doing it and why, maybe someday something will change.
Robin Romano, a photographer, extensively investigated slavery and child labor in the Ivory Coast. ... In a lecture at the Univirsity of Connecticut, he quoted one of the enslaved workers as saying, "Tell them when they are eating chocolate, they are eating my flesh."
I'm going to have to think about it. No more Hershey's kisses at my mother's? No more McDonald's Iced Mocha to keep me awake? Sacrifice when it really matters is hard... Sacrifice when you can't see that it makes any difference at all is harder.How about you? What are you willing to give up to make a statement about stopping child slavery?
LATER: My friend Mary W. added this comment on the mirror site to this blog, Funny the World: Emily heard about this last year and was very upset that she would need to give up chocolate. We did some research and it turns out if you google fair trade chocolate, there's a fair number of sources. This one http://www.theochocolate.com/ is local to us and you can buy their chocolate at our grocery store. Much better.