Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Reason #1: "All Men are Created Equal"

But not all men are treated equal. 

There are a million and a half reasons to shop handmade, local, and fair trade. 

Today's discussion focuses on one very big reason, and generally the first that comes to my mind. The slave labour of China's political prisoners. China has for the longest time failed to comply with the UN's requirements for religious freedom. For decades, it has imprisoned, tortured, killed, and enslaved those people who refuse to comply with the government's mandates regarding religion and religious activity. These are not murderers, thieves, or drug smugglers - they're pastors, church-goers, and if they're smuggling anything, it's Bibles. These are sent for "re-education" through the means of labour. As a fellow Christian, this issue hits me over the head with a 2x4. The thought of a fellow Christian slaving over my mp3 player so that I can cruise with tunes makes my stomach turn. 

Hear what the U.S. State Department had to say in its report on religious freedom in China just last year:

"Police interrogated both laypeople and their leaders about their activities at the meeting sites, in hotel rooms, and in detention centers. Leaders sometimes faced harsher treatment, including detention, formal arrest and sentencing to reeducation or imprisonment."

and again,

"Practitioners who refuse to recant their beliefs are sometimes subjected to harsh treatment in prisons, reeducation through labor camps, and extra-judicial "legal education" centers."

It is very easy in our western mentality to believe that these sorts of things are of the past, but the reality is, they're going on today, every day. When I see that little Made in China sticker, I sometimes wonder - what about the person who put made that? 

If ever there was a good reason to buy local, handmade, or fair trade, that little question is definitely one. 

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