Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What Matters Most


"What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire"

- Title borrowed from the title of Charles Bukowski’s 1999 book of poems, 

In the dark of morning the day begins
with another couple of logs snugged into the
cast iron box of the wood stove
after stoking the night’s starry embers.
If the embers aren’t first stoked with the brass poker
the logs take much longer to ignite.

I open the news pages on my laptop
and on one I read about the long iron rod of rape
by Congolese men who enslave 11-year-olds
to mine tin, tungsten, tantalum
the metals used to magically ignite this screen I read.

And just so, in the comfort of my red leather chair
just then, the logs take fire. I hear
the knock as the metal expands, I see the shimmering
orange flames behind the creosoted glass
crisscrossed with a pattern of black iron

and I see that the fire is caged, a tiger
burning bright, all the sun’s heat reborn right here
in my own dark cave, working for me,
warming me, controlled by me, Imagine!
just with a poke of my brass rod

~ Ruth M.

Read Ashley Judd's devastating article about conflict minerals, which are mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo so you and I can have cell phones and laptops, titled Costs of Convenience here.

Read what Business for Social Responsibility said about conflict minerals here.

Read what Steve Jobs said about conflict minerals and his industry here.

Read one take on the Financial Reform bill in the U.S. that includes legislation about conflict minerals and disclosure here.


Friko said...

O Ruth,
what are we going to do? what is mankind going to do?
what can we do?

Cruelty, exploitation for the sake of 'progress' is the hallmark of our civilisation. We don't even eradicate cruelty and exploitation on our own doorstep, where we can see it; how much less likely are we to do anything about man's inhumanity to man in far-off lands.

Your poem is wonderful, it breaks my heart.
Imagine: a few words can do it.

Gwei Mui said...

This is aother stunning piece Ruth the juxtaposition of the "normal" with the "abnormal" beautiflly wirtten but horrific

Bonnie said...

It is a question of values isn't it. Do we value ease, comfort, speed, convenience, instant communication more than a human life? So it seems.

Since the genie is out of the bottle and there is no going back, it demands global, social responsibility. Perhaps there should be a special tax on items produced with conflict minerals that finances UN intervention in these areas.

Enjoyed Judd's diary excerpt and Jobs' email response to an honest inquiry. Thank you for the links and for making me think about this issue ... as I use products that cost who-knows-what of another human. It will remain a source of shame unless I do something about it - I'll think on that today.

George said...

Wow! This was a power posting, Ruth. Your poem is so wonderful that it's hard to believe that you wrote it so quickly. The piece by Ashley Judd is both heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Can you imaging how each of us would change our lives — indeed, change the world — if we understood in advance the consequences of all of our actions, if we understood that the scope of our own complicity with evil. Having said that, I still don't know where to even begin. Do we trash our computers? Our cell phones? Perhaps we should, but the problem is that we would probably just resort to some substitute that is also rife with environmental or social problems. If the truth be told, most people prefer that their consumption patterns not be interrupted by knowledge of the consequences of their choices.

Painful as it is, this contribution, like that of Ashley Judd, makes the world a better place. Thanks for sharing both your heart and your creativity.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Ruth.

Powerful, courageous poem. I really like it.

How far can we go unless/until we are able to see the poker we hold in our hands?

Your poem reminds me of Thich Nhat Hahn's poem about the pirate rapists in Call Me by My True Names.

Olga said...

Very intense poem! Thank you for posting.

Margaret Bednar said...

"My spiritual growth cannot afford the convenience of hate. The cost is too great. It makes me no better than they. I am asked to examine the violence in my own thoughts, where all violence starts..." Weren't we just on this subject not long ago?

Pondering this "horrificness" (spell check does not like my word) I feel powerless. This "raping" and corruption started after the demand was there. It has been the way of the world and I think always will be. Greed for money and power ... none of which we can take to the grave...

Let's hope that our humanity and striving for fairness will establish standards and eradicate this form of slavery... but it will take politicians and lawmakers much too long and so many will be hurt.

Every time I pick up one of these instruments, I will feel guilty. I don't even like diamonds anymore - refuse to spend the money on them what with all the literature out there about blood diamonds, how can anyone buy them?

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. But now, what can we DO?

ellen abbott said...

Ah what a piece of work is man. - Shakespeare

(yes I know it's not the exact quote, pardon my small liberty.)

Char said...

there are many days i'm ashamed to be human.

Ruth said...

Friko, I really don't know what we're going to do. I think we have to be informed. That's first. There are so many things I wish I didn't know! But once I know them, then what? You're so right, there is nothing new under the sun. These same horrors have been going on since the beginning of man. It's just that now we learn about them, on our screens, every day if we are open to that.

I think if we follow our hearts and focus on what we can, learn about it, investigate what is being done to fix it, I don't know what else to do. I suppose it would ease my conscience to quit my job and work full time helping. But is that what is needed, really?

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, this is one of those times I needed to express the ugliness in poetic form, not in prose. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, yes, in a way it's true that we value these conveniences, even though we know what it costs someone so terribly. But we also believe that if we don't have the items we do, it won't necessarily change anything in any immediate way.

I was actually hopeful when I found that part of our recent financial reform legislation addresses this, and apparently there will be reporting requirements for companies importing these metals from the DRC. This is good. And the Business for Social Responsibility group is also addressing how as companies to trace the metals and only import from sources that do not do such practices. One problem is that if companies like General Electric slow imports from DRC, then the livelihoods of many people who need work will be impacted. I'm thankful that these business people are working hard on this issue.

As we keep reading and investigating for ourselves, this and any issue like this, we will do what we can in protest, boycott (as with blood diamonds), etc.

Peter said...

I knew about this, but of course it did not prevent me from buying a new iPhone (made in China), like everybody else. Whatever we buy now, the origin would probably be doubtful in the respect you describe so well in your poem ... except if you can buy your vegetables from the nearby underpayed farmer. I'm afraid that there is hardly any solution like stop buying, except in some very extreme cases. To be aware about it all, to critisise ,to make pressure ... that's perhaps all we can do? If we go back to protectionism, buying only home made products or from "sure" countries, the developing countries would probably need even more time to reach an acceptable living level? Not easy!

Pat said...

I had the decency enough to blush while reading your poem. Powerful stuff.

who said...

as my neighbors are well aware, I had to acquire two discarded general electric ovens in order to salvage parts to fix my broken oven.

Although I have to admit part of the reason was due to my foolish stubborn ways and refusing to buy a new part that was not available separately and with the "attached" extra components (that were easily separated) the price tag for the replacement part was half the cost of a new oven (which again due to my stubborness) I also refused to buy.

I think some folks would be willing to pay and would love to buy if a humane and fair wage was paid to those who made it happen.

Although I don't mind taking things apart to get what I need without supporting the most bloodied of the hands nor do I mind hails to those kind of hart

Ginnie said...

It's such a double-edged sword, Ruth. It feels like we're torn assunder both coming and going. Being made aware wouldn't happen this quickly and massively without the tainted products. God have mercy on us all as we try to figure out our voice of conscience...and convenience.

Ruth said...

Hello, George. Thank you. Perhaps the poem came quickly because there had been days of preparing the soil with grief. I had written a prose piece in response to this knowledge, that was new to me, another terror in the supply chain. But I couldn't post it, and then after reading a couple of poems by others, this came out in a few minutes.

What you say, I'm afraid, is the sad truth. If we knew all, we would see that there is a long line of suffering behind almost everything we bring into our homes and lives. And even changing things up, we then might create a negative impact on those we most want to help, by disrupting their livelihood.

Over the years, and through all the human rights frontiers, nothing has changed without people working to increase awareness and make things happen. On we go. I should be grateful for knowledge, but it comes with a price: I can no longer sit comfortably as long as someone somewhere suffers for what I enjoy.

Thank you for your always good and encouraging presence.

Ruth said...

Dan, I can't thank you enough for turning my eyes to that poem, which I had never seen. What he does there, including in the preamble about the poem, is to show that we are all of it, we are everyone, we are the snake as well as the mayfly. This is what I was saying, by ending the poem with the poker in my hand.

I am going to link Thich Nhat Hanh's poem and preamble here so that others may read it. It is very important. Thank you so much.

Jeanie said...

I love to start my day with a poem by you -- most thought provoking.

Dan Gurney said...

Ruth, thank you for posting that link in your reply to my comment. I hope many people click it. I just did.

I am crying.

rauf said...

some one out there suffers for our comforts Ruth. i told you we can't remain happy always, we can't insulate ourselves and be insensitive to the surroundings. you sent me a song video about a child in a leather shoe factory in china and where the shoe ends up. much worse happens in China where most of our comforts come from now, most of them made by unpaid prisoners, so that we can afford to buy and throw it and buy a new one. My iPod comes from China Ruth. Who encourages such atrocities ? The corporate, the manufacturer. i wanted to write more about corporate heartlessness but the current post was getting too long. its time the history of humans ends.

rauf said...

Ashley Judd is going to the wrong end Ruth

Margaret Bednar said...

Read the posting regarding the pirates and read the poem. Bugged me for quite a while, the comment that if we were born in those conditions, we would become a pirate. I understand the dire circumstances but when it comes to inflicting pain on a girl (or woman or human being) everyone has an inner compass that tells them such actions are evil and wrong. It is called hate and selfishness. There is NO excuse. Unless one is madly insane, and that is not the case here. There should be NO compassion for such a horrendous crime - even IF you understand "how" the pirate came to these circumstances, the crime itself is EVIL and deserves severe punishment.

With all our "advancements" we tend to want to "cure" everything. Which isn't a bad desire, it just isn't possible and we tend to lash out and accuse the "lucky", "advantaged" the "prosperous" as evil because of others who suffer. The poor will always be with us - and yes, our hearts and minds should reach out to help.

Rauf made a statement "it's time the history of humans ends". I hope his meaning is it is time for such human-afflicted atrocities to end.

The Solitary Walker said...

This is a powerful poem, Ruth, and it deals with an enormous and difficult subject, one that is never far from my mind. In my life I try and make changes in patterns of living and consumption which make the world a marginally less exploitative place to inhabit, but these decisions are so minor that they seem almost pointless - a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, I think we all have to try, each in our own, small, personal ways. For big changes can sometimes come from thousands of tiny, individual, seemingly insignificant efforts. As other commenters have stated, however, the issues are far from simple.

caroldiane said...

such challenges in our modern world - however, I believe we are better to know what it costs to hold what we hold in our hands. How else can we demand a better way? In the meanwhile (and in part with thanks to you for your eye opening poem and links) I will manage with my decade old laptop until I can find a way to purchase one that is "blood" free. Thank you!!

Ruth said...

Olga, yes, it feels even more intense to me today than yesterday. Thank you for appreciating such a tough one.

Ruth said...

Margaret, yes, it's only too recently that I focused on another terrible story here. My heart is heavy with these things.

We have guilt. We have powerlessness. We are implicated in all of this. No matter how many things we get rid of, still there will be something that we have that has caused someone pain. We may not know about it, but it will be there.

Our guilt and powerlessness is nothing compared to the suffering and powerlessness of way too many of the world's people. Frankly, I do not want to be relieved of guilt. Why should I be? Do I deserve to be relieved of guilt if I give money to a cause or volunteer somewhere? I think we need to be very careful why we do what we do. We have to do our part to alleviate suffering as much as we possible can! But this will not resolve all of it, and we have to accept it.

I'll respond to your other comment in order, because that is another very complicated topic!

Ruth said...

Ellen, whether it's an exact quote of Shakespeare or not, it gets the point across. Only humans do such things.

Ruth said...

Char, me too. I hope that on those days you are also proud of being human. We are capable of compassion and incredible feats of love, forgiveness and mercy!

Ruth said...

Peter, I agree with you. Sometimes boycotts cause a different kind of damage to the way of life of those we want to save from suffering, by taking away their livelihood. The conscious intention to do what we can and put pressure on these companies is important.

Unfortunately our lives are polluted, with products that are bad for our health, with knowledge of these terrible things that happen in the supply chain. There is much we can't do anything about.

I feel like I'm talking in circles!

Thank you for your input, Peter.

Ruth said...

Pat, thank you for your comment. I have to recognize that I am capable of more than I think I am, and that I am complicit in what causes suffering to many.

Bella Rum said...

It's difficult to look at our own compliance in such violence. It's overwhelming. I had heard a little about this but thank you for the links. Very informative. Hopefully we will some day know if we are buying a product that uses conflict minerals.

rauf said...

MARGARET BEDNAR, No, The statement i made is not open to interpretations. Here or in my blog.

We don't deserve to live, we deserve to go extinct. Our evolution has been a failure. We refuse to evolve. Only humans commit atrocities on one another. This has been going on ever since humans acquired intelligence. Humans are the only species causing imbalance in nature. Humans are not good for nature. Humans are not good for the planet. There is no rich and poor in other species.

Vagabonde said...

I have read all your past posts. You have some beautiful pictures and great poems – but heavy with deep and strong feeling. I think we all should have a light footprint on earth and not buy everything that comes out and is new. I don’t have an IPod and rarely watch TV. I don’t have a VCR or a fancy cell phone. I use my old cell phone, maybe once or twice a month, to call my husband from the store to ask if we need something else. Our desktop computer is very slow, large and was put together by a friend ten years ago. Our family car was made in 1997 and has less than 80,000 miles on it. I refuse to enter SUVs because I know how bad they are for people’s health – I have bad lungs and have read how they emit more microscopic particulate, irritant to lungs and carcinogenic when inhaled – very hurtful to young children. They also turn over easily – my daughter’s best friend died when her car touched the sidewalk at 45 MPH, turned over and decapitated her; the US auto industry hides all these facts. So we can do something – and that is consume less and not buy everything in sight. I just went to Guatemala and saw how people lived there, some of them are happy without all these status symbols. I hope that the rich nations won’t hurt them with all their greed - it is not a pretty picture. It is hard to talk about this with the holidays coming though. These are difficult subjects, Ruth.

Margaret Bednar said...

Awareness is key for change to begin. I guess I accept the idea that I am part of the "problem" that makes salve labor in a third world country possible, and I do not condone such things ever. I don't feel guilt, but I do feel sorrow and helplessness.

Rauf, I apologize. I don't think I interpreted your statement, I think I said something like "I hope you mean..." as I found you statement a bit shocking. I see some element of truth in it, but I do believe that we have powerful good and incredible evil at the same time. I guess I just don't come up with the same conclusion as you do. Thank you for taking the time to clarify your statement for me.

Vagabonde brings up a good point. The things we feel strongly about, we should try and take a stand. Each one CAN make difference, can have an influence on others.

Powerful stuff here, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Dusti, I cheer you on as you refurbish your oven with old parts. There are few who do this any more. It used to be everyone would get their shoes resoled, or rebuild appliances. When I watched Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff that point was driven home to me, that it is way too easy for us to just take junk to the curb and buy something new, because we don't understand how much damage is done to the planet in that line from the source to our door. I think I remember her saying that for every bag of garbage that goes to the curb, there are 12 bags of garbage created in the process of manufacturing.

Carry on, Dusti, please.

Ruth said...

I know, Boots, the irony is haunting, that we would not know about these things without the very products that implicate us. As rauf says, it's the manufacturing companies that are most at fault. I hope that organizations like Business for Social Responsibility will find ways for companies to make money and get the three Ts from sources that don't exploit slave workers.

Ruth said...

Hi, Jeanie, thank you for always being positive.

Ruth said...

Dan, I was glad to find the poem with the preamble, which blows me away. Can we look at each other and recognized ourselves in each other?

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Ruth said...

Yes, rauf, you've been teaching me since almost five years ago, when I first read Daylight Again. You've studied these shocking things for decades, much longer than many of us, who have unwittingly carried on in the happy capital way. One thing I notice that has changed in my outlook: I no longer have the need to overcome the sorrow and guilt over this suffering. I can't deny it, and why should I? I do have to find a way to cope, not go mad, be hopeful, even if it's just a chink of hope, and not give up. Your current post on the end of the human race comes in a long line of documentation of why humans might not survive, but the planet is strong and can overcome us. It's ourselves we're destroying as we annihilate trees and degrade the soil, pump chemical seeds into the ground, etc. When we're gone, this dear planet will recover.

We haven't been good caretakers, rauf. It's a terrible, terrible waste.

Ruth said...

Oh, and rauf, how would you rather see Ashley Judd go about this, bring attention to it? What's a better end? Please explain, I know you have good ideas. Maybe you're working on another post ...

Ruth said...

Margaret, your part of this conversation is so important and valuable. Thank you.

I understand what you are saying, that there is no excuse for inflicting such suffering on anyone or anything. While I can't imagine being of the mindset that would allow me to do such a despicable thing, I do know that I am capable of terrible things. I have seen my own heart be angry, or I have felt some kind of morbid curiosity when seeing someone suffer, even in a movie. While I try to keep my heart clear of things like that, I still know as a human I'm capable of great evil. What Thich Nhat Hanh says in that preamble and poem is that the conditions themselves that breed the pirates need to be addressed. Same with Somali pirates. What choices do they have for survival? Raping a young girl or boy, of course, is another matter. But what if that is the only behavior you have ever witnessed, in the group you consider your family? Of course I don't condone it, but I feel I have to recognize that I have the same capacity for evil that anyone does, if given the same exact genes and circumstances. No one can prove this is true or false, and perhaps it doesn't make a difference whether I believe it or not, but I do think the outlook transforms my own sense of what needs to change: It's not the results, or the behavior alone that should be addressed by punishing, but addressing the origin of the behavior, what drives people to do such things? We have to start farther back, and we have to accept that we are capable ourselves of evil things. Many "good" people have done terrible things throughout history. How is it possible? It's the crowd, the group.

Well, I wish we could sit and talk. But this has been helpful for me in these boxes.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Robert, I agree with you. Even if we have a bad feeling that what we do isn't making a dent, there are at least two reasons we should carry on. One is that as you say, a lot of drops fill an ocean. Two is that I have to live with myself. If my face is turned toward the problem, not away, and I intentionally do what I can as I am more aware and informed, keep getting more educated about how to support change, there is psychological and emotional value. That might sound callous to say, but frankly, I just couldn't live with myself if I ignored what I know and plowed ahead. As it is, I have a hard time living with myself and the world as it is. I find relief in music, nature, art, the joy of family, and then I go on again. I am convinced that love and joy fill the air waves and fill us with the right kind of passion, that is not merely angry and spiteful, but make us act in compassionate ways. We have to recognize the power in that kind of energy. I believe it can change the world, if enough drops of it fall.

rauf said...

oh you knew about it already Ruth, remember 'the story of stuff'. Annie Leonard ? she talks about mining in Congo which is used in our electronic gadgets

Since Ashley Judd is a celebrity, she and other celebrities should tell the manufacturers (brand name holders) to apply pressure on the factory owners in the third world countries or China (is it a third world country Ruth ? pardon my poor knowledge ) or the mining authorities for better working conditions and more pay for their workers. those who are buying the raw material should threaten the mine owners with withdrawal of contracts.

do you remember the shoe factory song Ruth ? you sent me the link to the video. the visual is split in two frames, one frame shows the comforts a small boy is enjoying in Europe and the other frame shows a child labour in a leather factory making a shoe. In the end the tantrum showing boy of the first frame wears the same shoe made by child labourer some where across the globe. its a beautiful song Ruth.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Caroldiane, that is one step. Choices like yours, when combined with all the others who make similar steps, do make a difference.

rauf said...

MARGARET, no need to apologise, in fact i have to apologise for being impulsive. Ruth is aware of my lack of English knowledge, but that is hardly an excuse for my impolite response. i don't know how to express my feelings in fancy words or less hurtful words. Sometimes i use humour to reduce the impact. i am merely repeating what i have been saying in my blog for a long time.

Ruth said...

Yes, Bella, it's very difficult. I just read this in my Daily Ruiz (Don Miguel Ruiz):

Love is responsible for its actions. Everything you think, everything you do, has a consequence, and you are going to experience the consequences of your actions in one way or another. All human beings are completely responsible for their actions, even if they don't want to be.

Ruth said...

rauf, even if I took only what I needed, without any greed, I would disrupt something. Animals even disrupt the lives of each other. Some survive, others don't. I am going to once again post James Dickey's poem. It seems a good time.

The Heaven of Animals

by James L. Dickey
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

Ruth said...

(By the way, I don't necessarily agree with Dickey's line that animals have no souls ...)

Ruth said...

Dear Vagabonde, it is so good to see you back.

I cheer and celebrate your lifestyle. No matter what a person does, if she is circumspect and thoughtful, with intention, patience, restraint, observance, I feel that this accomplishes much.

Your story about the SUV accident (and your email with more details) is heartbreaking, and yes terribly painful and gut wrenching, but we must keep these things in the open, unhidden. Please do not feel bad for posting it here. I have struggled with the weight of this post and my panties post, yet I feel I would be dishonest with myself and you if I do not share from these shadows as well as from the sunny joys. Investigating about things like SUVs, which you have done, is vital, because the industry wants to protect their sales above all. We can't let that happen.

Yes, the holidays approach. I will lighten up here, expectant of the magic that seems to descend, even amid the horrible things, and even when those who suffer are not able to find relief in holidays.

Ruth said...

Yes, I agree with you, Margaret. I however, do feel guilt. Whether I should or not is debatable, I suppose.

rauf's post tells it like it is, no sugar frosting. It took me a while to shake out my reactions to his declarations when I first began reading Daylight Again. That was about me. Once my eyes were opened, I recognized that he thinks clearly for himself, with a lot of investigation, and I am eternally grateful for how he is affected change in my outlook.

I so value what you bring here, Margaret.

Ruth said...

rauf, I forgot that the mining in the DRC was in the Story of Stuff. I posted a link to it, by the way, in my comment response to Dusti (Who). There was a lot to take in in that video, and it just didn't sink in.

Thank you for explaining further what you wish Ashley Judd would do. She really could bring pressure by taking movie cameras with her famous face and shining a light on those manufacturers. It may not be enough for consumers to demand conflict-free electronics.

Yes, I remember the shoe factory video, but I can't find it again. If you find it, rauf, please send to me. I don't remember what song it was either.

I'm glad Margaret and you have talked, and I'm glad too that she read your current post on the end of humans. All of this is very good, and I thank you again for opening my eyes in the work you do.

Julie said...

Hi, Ruth. Your poem is absolutely wonderful. Very powerful work. I love Buk, and I love your poem. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I had no idea. I have an eight-year-old laptop that was given to me. No cell phone. No I-pod. No gadgets. Never owned a diamond. Don't want them. Yes, I'm a weird bird:)

But all of this is good to know, because I will need to replace my computer one of these days, maybe sooner than later. And I may end up getting rid of my land line if I can find a cheaper deal on a cell phone. (And I don't mean to sound self righteous...I'm sure there are many things I do that are wrong).

It's also good to know, so we can put pressure on manufacturers to disclose the information. Knowledge is power. Thank you for the awareness!

Ruth said...

Dear Julie, thank you so much, it's a tough poem, I'm glad you love it. I love Bukoski too. I can always count on him to tell it like it is.

I am both glad and not glad to be the one to bring this knowledge to you.

That's twice I've heard you say you're weird or crazy in a day, both here and in your tremendous blog post about your parents with the poem about your dad. You sit like a stump in the woods. If you're weird or crazy, I say, bring on more weirdness and craziness. If having few gadgets contributes to you going out into nature and rising up and becoming part of that world, we need more craziness like that.

Oh said...

dear R, your piece was so "there" for me. So right, so encircled. So clear.

And because of the industry in which I work, i'm afraid to read the pieces on conflict minerals.

I will, though.

Ruth said...

Hello, Oh. I hope that when you read about conflict minerals, you will come to understand what to do with any conflict within yourself that might arise. Working in the industry, perhaps you will have opportunity to give it more attention than many of us do.

Thank you for engaging so well with this, and for feeling that the poem is "right" and "there" and "clear."

cathyswatercolors said...

Thank you for the what matters most post, i will read all the links.

J.G. said...

It's such a small point in a larger discussion, but the correct title is WALK Through the Fire. You'd think Garrison Keillor, who lauds English majors, could get something like that right. Bukowski deserves better.

Now for the larger point: as long as we base our purchasing decisions on short-term considerations of what is "cheapest," others will continue to pay dearly for our inexpensive and plentiful consumer goods. If economics took into account the long-term costs to the Earth community (all beings who live here, and the planet itself), prices and our purchasing decisions would be very different. Because someone or something always pays.

Many organizations are working to change the prodominant way of thinking, and education and awareness are the first steps to changing behavior. Thank you for spreading the word.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Cathy.

Ruth said...

Dear, J.G., I can't thank you enough for that correction! I never once looked up the volume of Bukowski's, obviously! I will change it momentarily, in the title of my poem. WALK makes more sense, though WORK made sense too. But WALK implies all things we do, not just WORK, however we might interpret that.

And yes, we are terribly spoiled here in the U.S., and I think it's spreading, to think that we deserve the least expensive products. The Story of Stuff really gets at this point effectively. If we would be willing to live with far less, but pay a fair price for what we have, so much good would be done!

Thank you for your helpful comment.

Susan said...

I don't know where I've been, but I truly didn't know. It sure makes the anticipation I was feeling about getting an iMac for Christmas seem very hateful. Your poem packs a real gut punch and yet is so beautiful. Those poor women and girls.

Oliag said...

Dear Ruth...Sometimes I just want to hide my head in the sand and live in ignorance. It isn't possible though. Your poem is more than is powerful.

Montag said...

Wow! So you're reading Charles Bukowski. He has earth force.

Loring Wirbel said...

I hope you are submitting this one somewhere - very powerful.

J.G. said...

Thank you, Ruth, for the kind words and the correction. (I knew you would care!) And most of all, for creating the space for the discussion with your poem and in all the comments. It's heartening to know so many people care about these issues, even if we aren't yet sure how to apply that caring to create the changes we need.

Brendan said...

Conflict minerals, yes, like conflict diamonds, the pleasures of the first world mined from the hellish depths of the third ... Great weave of the perplex relation between torture and creation. The smith has always been seen as sort of a demon, imitating the Goddess by forging implements in a womb of fire; and his creations were frequently evil -- cruel weapons of copper and bronze and iron that successfully enslaved half the world by the time of Christ. We can't shake ourselves of that legacy; a verse creation is an opus contra naturuum, a violence against the order of silence, even though our purposes may be gentle and loving and whole-making. We work on a subtle, fiery foundation; the guilt can never quite be expunged. I heard how poorly Jobs mounted his defense of purchasing elements for the iPad from factories in China that had no environmental controls. Those iPad commercials are all about humane uses of high-tech, but they are searingly wrong when you consider how many Chinese workers have sickened from constant contact with the vile odors of some metal that goes into to the iPad's vibrant screen. It's a little like our appetite for meat and the way the killing of animals for that hunger is kept from our sight -- no way we can quite clear ourselves of our guilt, even as we prepare feasts for our loved ones. Great work, friend. - Brendan