I thoroughly enjoyed reading Disposable People, as much as a book about slavery can be enjoyed. My eyes were opened to the horrors of our world and reality of life outside the United States. I’m not a sheltered person and have been to countries where running water and 3 meals a day are luxuries. But I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams the conditions Bales described.
The problem with my new found knowledge is the overwhelming feeling of guilt and responsibility I now have. Reading about the sex slaves in Thailand and the children slaves in India breaks my heart and makes me want to do something to raise awareness, but it also puts a huge weight of guilt on my shoulders. Here I am, sitting in my heated dorm room using my relatively new MacBook about to exercise my right of free speech, while at this same exact moment somewhere across the world a young girl is being raped or a man is being whipped from trying to escape a batteria. Thinking about this, I suddenly get the urge to sell everything I own, donate the money to Free the Slaves, and live on the streets in order to try and understand what life is like for someone who has nothing. Of course, that’s absolutely ridiculous because what would that achieve? Feeling guilty won’t help any slave find freedom.
Well then, it’s as easy as raising awareness; but even that has problems. For one thing, there are thousands of issues in the world that need awareness: domestic violence, rape, increasing CO2 emissions, world hunger, genocide, animal and environmental conservation, and the list goes on. With all of these issues it’s overwhelming knowing which one to actually do something about. Because let’s face it, one person cannot be active in all of these issues, there simply is not enough time. You can definitely support and spread the word, but as to really doing something, really making a difference, I’m afraid we must pick and choose.
As wrong as I think slavery is and as much as it needs to be stopped, I personally pick the environment as my cause-of-choice. I feel that the state of the environment and our role in harming, as well as helping it, is of enormous importance. They way we treat the Earth has a direct affect on our quality of living, as well as the quality of living for the entire world. The scale is just too grand for me to ignore.
So I ask, what is your cause? What are you going to do something about? Not just spreading the word by printing flyers or striking up a conversation, but by really taking those steps to make a change. It’s all good and great to talk about taking action, but until something is done, it's just words.