But when I read this report about Chinese factory workers, even my conscience was touched.
See, the thing about it isn't the children - bad though that was - that were working in the factory. No, it's the whole manner in which this industry operates by using oppressive labour practices in order to make goods as cheaply as possible.
Here in the west we have an insatiable hunger for new and shiny stuff, and all for less and less money. There was a time I'd look at a motherboard and wonder at the amazing complexity of the thing, all shipped to the UK and sold for about 30 quid or less, yet at the time I'd sleep easily knowing that it couldn't be knocked up in some dirty sweatshop somewhere like the tee shirts that get sold for a quid or so.
Only it seems I was wrong.
Not that the sweatshops are dirty, but we in the west are indirectly profiting by stealing from the poor, even if we aren't the ones subjecting them to long hours for little pay. Yes, they may be glad of the opportunity to earn money, possibly being able to have dreams and aspirations that were unthinkable for people of a similar social background 30 years ago, but that doesn't mean that we aren't still guilty of causing the grinding oppression now.
The ethics of this are deeply troubling, because we've set in motion a train of events that we don't control. If the west were to suddenly be conscience-struck, stop buying the products of that oppressive system then the result would be even greater hardship- poverty and starvation in all likelihood for real. Yet by continuing to buy we're just perpetuating the system. Certainly companies like Apple, HP, Dell and many other household names are all guilty of helping create this system in their willfully blind pursuit of profit, but there doesn't seem any way we can make them turn round to put it right. Stop buying Apple stuff and Samsung's phone business will increase. Don't buy Dell and Lenovo will reap the reward instead.
Unless the mega-corps get a sudden attack of conscience, I don't see how things can be changed. And they certainly don't mind which countries workers are oppressed - worth bearing in mind for the future of our children and their children too.
I'm not a scaremonger or conspiracy theorist, seeing illuminati and capitalist power-brokers behind every curtain, but there is a legacy building up, and it's not looking good for the future.
I don't often quote the bible on this blog, but I'm going to do so here:
gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you
and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
NIV via biblegateway.
You know what gives this teeth - I'm trying to buy a new smartphone. :p as they say.