You. The World. Connected?
My undergraduate years were focused primarily on trying to make an impact in the world. My graduate career in International Development has similarly been about impacting the world; albeit with a little dose of reality – and substantially more sleepless nights. I guess the one thing I have been forced to learn from my one year in graduate school is that there’s no blueprint to achieving development, vis-à-vis, industrialization. Apparently, my desire to learn the skills needed to become an effective development specialist has left me with a less desirable truth: there’s no such thing as an effective development specialist. (Easterly even calls such people “planners” because their goals never come to fruition).
As such, while I still view child labor as a distasteful and inhumane endeavor, the academician in me cannot help but ponder the view that it’s simply the cost of industrialization. It’s the same thinking that goes with environmental pollution. From a third world perspective, at least, one might ask, “Why make a fuss about pollution now, when developing nations are just taking giant strides toward growth and development?”- “Isn’t pollution simply an externality that comes with rapid industrialization?”
In my academic studies, we always tend to approach matters involving less developed countries through the lens of an academic and disregard the humanist approach. But when I step away from that lens, I realize that we don’t need a scientific reason to be against child labor beyond the fact that it is distasteful, inhumane and inherently wrong. How do I know this? I am human.
The human in me recognizes a wrong when I see it; and the human in me is determined to act to correct that wrong. The human in me knows that I am affected by the things that go on in the far reaches of the world with the things I consume (and if I need evidence of this, I need look no further than the Department of Labor annual reports). So, while I cannot magically eliminate child labor in third world markets overnight, I can make a conscious choice here by being more aware of the goods that I consume, WHO makes them and WHERE they come from. We are all connected, and more important than a global supply chain network, is thehuman connection that ultimately defines us all. In the end, it’s only YOU and a harmonized US that can make the difference.
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