Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Chinese government is admitting to having waterways that are at least twice as polluted as previously reported. This shouldn't surprise us because we hear of serious incidents where major cities forbid using water from the rivers on which they are situated because of spills of toxins and other environmental problems. With a population well over a billion people it's hard to imagine how governments can ensure safe water supplies.
I got thinking about the stuff I own which comes from China. I have a guitar from China because it is good quality but much cheaper than one produced in North America. I have a jacket which I have worn for 15 years which comes from Mountain Equipment Coop. Their goods are always top quality and long-lasting. Guess where it was made? Of course, China has become a country of factories which pollute the air and the water and the soil. My inexpensive stuff has a high cost.
It seems to me that we need to be honest in recognizing that someone is paying the price we aren't willing to pay. I'm reading a book called The Value of Nothing by Raj Patel, which takes its title from an Oscar Wilde observation that "we know the price of everything and the cost of nothing." Patel points out that we encourage unsustainable economies which are harmful to the planet.
As I am preparing the last sermon in our Ten Commandments series I am thinking about what it means not to covet. I realize I shouldn't hanker after cheap stuff at someone else's expense. These workers and producers may live on the other side of the world, but it is the only planet God has given us, and we are asked to care for it.
Do you ever feel uneasy about an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to consumerism? Can we do anything about it?