The Human Cost

There is always something that people want that they are willing to deny the humanity of others in order to get it. This, I think, is what Paul meant when he wrote:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

— 1 Timothy 6:10

Sometimes it’s just money. Often it is land, or the resources that land can bring: gold, oil, coal…or lithium. Lithium has become an integral part to our modern life, because lithium makes it possible to produce very small batteries: batteries that power our phones, hybrid and electric cars, and the very laptop that I am writing this on. And, as the Washington Post reports, lithium mining is poised to be yet another corporate interest that will destroy indigenous communities.

We are also in this equation, and so I post this partly to make you (and myself) more aware of the human cost of our convenience. But it is also frustrating that while consumers and our insatiable and unthinking demands bear some of the guilt, it does not have to be an all or nothing proposition.

We could use laptops and phones that were not covered in injustice. Indigenous rights could be respected, profit-sharing and decision-making could be an essential part of all operations. People could be treated fairly, with respect, rather than fleeced for all they are worth with (at best) only the slightest appearance of goodwill to save face.

Maybe we would have fewer devices. Maybe they would be more expensive. Maybe we would have to live without the thing we are told to want. Or maybe we would be forced to innovate around the inviolable principle that human beings should always be treated as such. We are pretty smart – I bet we could come up with something.

Read the report from The Washington Post here

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