What ripples we make in the Pond
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:59 AM [+]
I made my wife sit down with me recently and watch Blood Diamond. It is a good movie that tells an engrossing story of a man trying to save his family from the ravages of the civil war in Sierra Leone. But there are numerous worthy subplots or perhaps co-plots (e.g. Danny Archer and his evolution)...but also there is the ever-hanging theme of how our wealthy thirst for shiny rocks (i.e. diamonds) can feasibly contribute to the horrors that take place thousands of miles away from where we watch commercials lying about such rocks lasting forever.
Of course, the movie isn't claiming (I don't think) that without the diamond trade that the civil war would not have happened or that there would be no child soldiers in Africa. Nor is it saying that the ultimate culpability for those who would drug up a child and brainwash them into carrying an AK47 into a village and killing everyone doesn't actually reside with the person who actually did such things. (millstones for them all, if you please!). However, it does point out that what we do - especially these days - can have very far reaching effects.
And while we do ourselves (and others) a profound service in trying to educate ourselves about such effects and worrying about them...I truly suspect it is a task that is impossible to fulfill...fully. Spending time in Seattle and working in a University-like environment, one is often bombarded by innumerable "issues"...indeed there is no end to them, and while many are absurd (e.g. PETA), others have exceptionally valid issues - IMHO. Furthermore, I suspect for every "issue" we are made aware of, there are perhaps 3 or 4 we know nothing about and likely never will. Complicating the matter is that sometimes in trying to change the effects of our habits and shifting them in a different direction, we may in fact be unknowingly causing some new troublesome effects elsewhere. Truly, one could spend a lifetime trying to satisfy a global social conscience.
I hold a number of Mutual Funds through TIAA-CREF. One fund (I do not hold)is purported to have a global conscience, and when I see it listed as an option I cannot help but wonder how it manages to manage the thousands of stocks typically found in a mutual fund with a global conscience in mind? Sure, it has certain criteria...and perhaps that is enough to make it a good thing...but I am sure they are perpetually being lobbied to include new and different criteria as new and different social issues arise or are made known. Sorting through it all can boggle the mind and turn a sympathetic soul into a cynic.
However, there is one possible solution for someone who is overwhelmed by issues more numerous than the stars: sticking close to home as much as you are able. First and foremost: consume less. Know the sources of the products you do consume as much as you are able (such as your local farmer). Produce your own products as much as you are able. Buy locally as much as you are able. Watch your heart.
We will never be able to entirely stop the ripples we make in the pond...and in fact some of the ripples are entirely unseen...spiritual ripples and these are the sort we can more directly work on - though no activist will confront us with these on the streets of Seattle. There are many benefits to trying to support your local economy, one of them is that it can ease a troubled and confused social conscience to some degree. But also, we must be willing to admit that the grand scheme is simply too big for us...we are not going to solve the world's problems. We are not going to end poverty. We are not going to end all wars. Which is why I included "Watch your heart" for it is in that arena that we can truly do the most good in this world. For from it (our heart) we can spill out God's love to those around us and they in turn can pass it on. THIS, is the only "change" we can really believe in. It is the only change that will save the world: one body and soul at a time.
Such a changed soul likely never needs to worry much about where their diamonds come from...because, really, what use are diamonds?