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Animal, Mineral and Vegetable: Global Denial of Interconnectedness

This past Friday marked the 40 year anniversary of the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was an advocate for civil rights. 40 years later, we are still in the trenches for both civil and human rights.

On Wednesday of this coming week, the 2008 Olympic Torch passes through San Francisco on its way to China for the Summer games. This is the only place in North America the torch will stop on its way to Beijing. It is a source of controversy.

Some of what our world needs is to go more deeply to the heart of issues, sometimes that's done by turning something like the Olympics into an alternative vehicle- or some might say hijacking it. It is a great prestige and honor for a nation to host the Olympics. But how can we look the other way on what's happening in Tibet? Here in the U.S. as well, I'll pick out just one local example of one of our own atrocious hypocrisies a UC Berkeley Law Professor who authored the "go ahead" on waterboarding. Here's one about what happens to cats in order for the Olympics to happen.

On Tuesday of this coming week, HBO will release The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, a movie about women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who for decades have suffered rape, mutilation and torture as a result of the ongoing power struggles in that country.
The filmmaker is a woman who was gang-raped here in the U.S. and chose the path of amplifying the voices of women whose plight needed to be known by the world at large. Additional information can be found in this excellent blog about the war in the Congo. King Leopold's Ghost tells a version of the story of how the Congo got the way it is today.
But there is an economic angle that needs to be emphasized amid these horrible realities about the treatment of women, the abuse of power and the reign of money. Columbite-tantalite is widely used in cell phones, computers and electronics equipment. Here's an interesting page from Environmental Ethics for a Post Colonial World which addresses how the quest for the mineral has caused the Congo's National Park boundaries to be cast aside in favor of strip mining for the material. Deane Curtin writes, "If you own a cell phone or a computer, you are morally compelled to be concerned about the future of colombite-tantalite mining."
It is a shadowy cast and a big challenge that green and sustainable technology concepts should be facing. We are fervently pasting on band-aid solutions that give the appearance of a solutions. We have become disconnected from the effects of our own materialism. We think that everything can be solved by positioning it as a for-profit opportunity. I'm not sure how many decades that will last, but I hope the audience this film has had and will continue to gain will begin to shed light on the true concepts of how the world treats women and consequently, how we treat and what we take from the earth herself.
Photo: March on Washington, 1963, Wikipedia.

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