I the wake of the disaster in Japan, we always get this question: so if everything comes from my seeds, did i cause the disaster in Japan?
I was reading another article in that issue of Wired i have (mar.2011); this one is the cover story, “My Gadget Guilt: This is an iPhone factory in China. Seventeen of the company’s workers have committed suicide. Is it our fault?”
Essentially the story describes working conditions at Foxconn, a factory in China that employs one million people and builds 40% of the equipment that makes up the 150 billion dollar consumer-electronics industry.
It came under fire when it was revealed that in roughly a 18 month period 17 employees killed themselves. It got so bad that the company installed nets all around the buildings so that no one else could jump off.
Investigations reveal no hard evidence that the company did anything wrong (except perhaps allowing employees to work too much overtime (to the tune of 13 days straight at 12 hours a day); in fact they provide dorms for their employees (better than housing they can get on their own), commissaries, and even psychiatric care.
So question becomes, should I feel guilty that people are working in a factory 12 hours a day thirteen days straight to make gadgets for me that they can’t afford themselves?
The authors final conclusion is, “just a little.”
But of course, if we understand seeds, we know that what we perceive is coming from us. So yes, i created the disaster in Japan. Yes, i am responsible for the suicides at that factory in China.
But there are two ways to look at this. One, it’s my fault; I’m a bad person. Or two, if this is coming from me, i can change it.
There’s no word for “guilt” in Tibetan. We might regret something, but what’s the point of feeling guilty? Guilt says, “I’m a bad person, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” Regret says, “i did something wrong, let’s fix it.”
So how do we fix it? Geshe Michael covered earthquakes in one of my earlier posts. But how can i help a Chinese factory worker i will never meet?
Five percent of the world’s population cannot continue to use 40% of the world’s resources. When Geshe MIchael came out of his 3-year retreat, he made a scary prediction: if we don’t do something to change things, we could see our children working in Chinese sweatshops in our lifetime.
Why? What seeds do you think you are planting in your mind by being aware of the fact that you are living a life on the backs of others? Seeds that will result in a world that supports itself on your back. And not to scare you, but it’s coming, if you don’t plant different seeds.
So… how do i help a factory working in China, who i will probably never meet?
Give jobs to others. And not the crappy jobs, the jobs you like to do. 🙂
I think i told this story before: i used to take all the worst jobs at Diamond Mountain, and then dedicate the seeds so they people in China get great jobs. So eventually, those seeds will ripen as me seeing people in China not having to work 12 hour days.
See, the interesting thing is that we think we have to stop buying electronics, or write a letter to our Representative, or fly to China and write about the condition of factory workers there. You can do all those things, but it won’t help the factory worker in China. The only thing that will is being willing to accept dirty, thankless jobs yourself, and not force them on others.
Also, a really important idea we teach during the DCI retreats it the idea of limitless wealth.
Every last trifle we touch and consume, right down to the paper on which this magazine is printed or the screen on which it’s displayed, is not only ephemeral but in a real sense irreplaceable.
Because electronics come from sharing or giving them to others, if we all shared our electronics and gave them to others then everyone in the world could have all the electronics we want. If it’s true that the world is empty, and looks to me the way it does because of how i have treated others, then if i treated people in my world this way everyone could have anything they want.
Again, the best proof is the web. All the wealth generated by the web; where did it come from?
Being kind to others. 🙂