In thinking about this month’s BeZine theme of Hunger, Poverty and Working-Class Slavery, I was a bit overwhelmed with the scope. Each of these social issues is huge in its own right, with no one solution apparent for any of them. They are undoubtedly interconnected — with fear as a primal motivation, greed as a cause and a sorry, hopeless existence as evidence of their prevalence.

So how do we solve them? How do we make measurable progress tackling the roots of each problem? The answers are there, but it’s up to each one of us to do our part, do the research, find the hands-on solutions that work for us, individually, to help the collective movements. Here’s an idea that you may not have thought about: it all depends on how you view these issues. Maybe we haven’t been using the right approach to solve them? What if we changed how we see the problems, not as something ‘separate’ or ‘outside of us’, but as our problem(s) too? Our problems as a global community; a huge, connected family of human beings? When you change how you view things, what you are looking at can change, too.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I don’t know about you, but in my area, there are already lots of food drives happening to collect food for the less fortunate. Find your local food bank(s) and/or churches/missions and see what they need most. If you want to make an impact that you can see the results of directly, work locally – if you have more money than time, then donate money or actual, bought food stuffs to places in your area who feed the homeless. If you have more time than money, consider volunteering to help pack, organize or distribute boxes of food that comes in, or help cook and serve to those who are most in need of a good meal. If you’d rather make a global impact on hunger, consider joining The Hunger Project. You can learn more about it in this short video below, made by one of my favorite people, Prince Ea.

Poverty is another one of those things that is pretty easy to quantify and observe. You have the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots”, “Us” and “Them”. Again, it’s a problem of separation. If we are to truly solve the problem, we have to look at it from all angles, not just throwing money at it in the hopes that that action will make it better. Sure, it can help, of course it can. But most people who live in poverty (not all, but most) are there because that is where life and circumstance has placed them. It’s an accident of birth. If you were born here in the United States, you’re already leagues ahead (in terms of measurable ‘wealth’) of someone born in, say, Haiti. Is it your responsibility to help those in poverty? Why or why not? Here are a couple more videos to get you thinking from a different perspective.

Poverty is kind of a natural segue into talking about slavery. It’s hard to be anything but a slave if you’re too worried about survival basics, like where your next meal will come from, if you’ll be beaten to death by your neighbor or whether you will have to sleep outside in the elements tonight. It’s crazy to think that in the year 2017 that slavery still exists, but it does. You can call it Working Class Slavery, Wage Slavery, Modern Slavery or whatever other label you want to use, but the fact remains that even here in America, slavery is still a thing.

Alliance 8.7Did you know that there is a Global Slavery Index? The 2017 Global Estimates of “Modern Slavery” show about 40.3 MILLION people in slavery today all over the world, a significant number of whom are kids.

So what can we do to help those in slavery around the world? You can get involved in organizations like Alliance 8.7 , The Walk Free Foundation, The International Labour Organization or 50 for Freedom. They have conferences, plenty of resources to look through and useful links to lead you further in researching how you can make an impact.

Also carefully consider the consumer goods that you purchase – do some research – does the company who makes your shoes, your I-phone, your next ‘must-have’ material possession use forced slave or child labor? Do they use sweatshops? Find OUT. It’s not enough to just say “I don’t know”, because what you’re really saying is, “I don’t care”. There are already too many people who truly don’t care. That’s why there are so many people still in slavery today. In 2017.

You see, we have to change our view…and look at how WE contribute to the problem. WE are a big part of the problem, because of supply and demand. If the demand for the products goes down, so does the demand for cheap labor. Here are some lists to look through. Don’t be surprised if some of your favorite brand names are listed; shareholder profits trump human lives each and every day. That sounds cold and evil (and it is) but that’s the reality of it.

List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor

Clothing Stores and Brands that use Sweatshop Labor

More Consumer Brands that use Sweatshops

Five companies that use Slave Labor

I hope you’ve learned something by reading this today. Perhaps you will be willing and able to change the way you view these problems. Now that you’re more aware, there are no excuses. The issues are big enough that we all need to change how we see them — it’s our responsibility, these are our issues, too, because we’re all connected. Let’s all do out part to make sure that the view changes. I’m willing. Are you? 🙂

© 2017, Corina Ravenscraft

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