I was raised in Southern California in the sixties and seventies. And like most kids of that era, I had very little idea about where the goods I enjoyed originated. Where the prosperity flowed from.
We were taught that good old fashioned hard work, smart investments of time and money and ambition were the keys to success.
What they failed to tell us was that a large percentage of the natural resources, goods and profits that so illuminated our existence were not a result of just anyone’s hard work but for the most part, from people living far away.. in China, in South America, in Southeast Asia, Africa. That the gold, silver, minerals, diamond and oil businesses that were creating such prosperity were actually built on the backs of people too poor and too uneducated to know that they were being robbed and exploited.
None of this was talked about where I came from. As I grew older and my social consciousness began to bud.. I was disturbed to read stories of child labor, used by some of the most prominent of the companies that were heralded as examples of success.. Nike, GAP, Kodak, others. We discovered that children as young as three were sent down in silver mines in Bolivia to gather rock, that ten year olds were setting dynamite charges, that seven year olds were sitting at sewing machines 13 hours a day with no breaks, no sufficient food and no hope of making a profit on the less than one dollar a day they made.
Little by little there was exposure of these practices and some of the in equities and abuses were addressed. But the foundational attitudes that created the problem has little changed in the offices high above multi’national think tanks and businesses.
We have , as a culture, turned a blind eye to the institutional abuses of business all over the world. We in the west enjoy cheap goods at the expense of our global brothers and sisters.
There have been some unutterable tragedies connected to micro-financing, recently written about and reported by the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11997571). While these are regrettable, the real tragedy is the attitude that somehow these groups, nations, individuals need to earn help. That they need to kow tow to our greater wisdom, to follow our lead and submit to our complicated rules and regulations.
We continue with an attitude of condescension, when what is needed is our acknowlegement that they deserve our humble, compassionate, whole hearted co-journeying out of a situation that in the long run, has served no one.
If there is such a thing as collective consciousness– and I believe there is– then is there possibly such a thing as collective responsibility for the atrocities that have been visited on third world countries through the greed of governments and multi-national corporations rooted in our quest for more goods bought impossibly cheap?
I think there is.
I am not in Peru working because I feel sorry for the poor. I am in Peru because I feel I have a debt to pay.
As a member — by choice or otherwise, this is of no importance here–of the western prosperous, exploitative culture that has stolen and abused poorer cultures and countries, I can think of little that will suffice than to come and help, to donate time, energy and money to collectively come to offer reparation and asssitance without making people pay interest or prove their ‘worthiness’. We cannot afford to continue the practice of ‘benevolence’ .. we need to stretch further and practice accompaniment.
The West has made it almost impossible- through world debt, inflated gold standards, and quesionable commerce– for so many people of the third world to obtain decent education, clean water, fair trade, access to medical care or a future that can be built with their own ideas, their own leadership, wisdom and intuitions. The governments that rule them are more often than not complicit.
People here know what they need. They will make mistakes along the way, but it is not for us or any other entity to tell them that they do not have that very human right.
LaCasaCorazon strives to be a place where we listen to the people we want to support and follow their lead. Offering what they need and ask for, but not judging their processes, outcomes or their path by our own expectations.
We are aware that this philosophy will jar the sensibilities of some of our compatriots who feel somehow that we know best what the poor need. Or what they want. But we are committed to this vision of justice and of help.We gleefully accept the ephilet of ´Naive Dreamers´´, understanding that with hard work and intelligent co-action, dreams can come true.
We invite other dreamers to join us. Come voluteer with us, tell your friends or come donate money to the building up of an international exchange of duty and love and compassion and success.
And we wish you and yours a very happy and just New Year.
Sarita Brown for the team at LaCasaCorazon.