Who makes all your crap?

10 Jan

UPDATE (1/18/12): The major networks have picked up on what’s happening in the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen—and now the Daily Show has followed suit with an amazing clip/gag, that you can see by clicking here.

I recently heard about This American Life, an NPR/WBEZ radio program, from a classmate—so when I found it on the radio (as a repeat broadcast) while coming home from Groton (where I pastor) this past Sunday, I was interested.

When I heard the host of the program describe the topic of conversation, I was hooked.

And as I listened to the program, taking the long way home, making unnecessary stops and staying in the car for 10 minutes even after arriving at home, just so I could continue to listen (and even at the expense of running upstairs as fast as possible to watch the football game), I was moved and changed in a way that I have not been in a long time.

(click below for a summary and a link to the podcast)

The episode is entitled “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” based off of a live performance show done by Mike Daisey, a “Mac Guy” and techie who one day decided to learn more about where all his wonderfully seductive techie-crap came from.

I IMPLORE YOU, whether you’re an Apple nut or not, to LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST, for the following reasons, among others:

      * It’s pretty funny, while also tasteful. Entertaining, as well as eye-opening, stories are always winners in my book.

      * It’s persuasive without being judgmental.

      * It’s a great example of a “conversion story”—that happens from hearing the stories of others and attempting to step into their shoes, as well as give others a chance to step into ours/his.

      * Your crap doesn’t just “come from China”—It comes from a real place on a map, made by real people—in many cases, from the town of Shenzhen in China’s economic province.

      * The show producers do a tremendous job of fact-checking and being balanced in their analysis of his story at the end.

     * Virtually EVERYTHING we own is handmade.

      * It raises the question again that I cannot shake: Is this not the inevitable result of the unfettered growth-obsessed approach to business and life in the Western world? Are there not always people who are treated like cogs of a machine when businesses are pressured to always be growing and expanding? Is there a direct connection between colonization, Manifest Destiny, American imperialism, and modern-day globalization?

     * It also raises the question the show and others ask towards the end: Are the lives of the people in Shenzhen really better in the long run than they would’ve been without these factories? Are the businesses or the Chinese government to blame (and can American businesses avoid blame when they profit from the system)?

     * And what would Daisey say about the even-earlier stages of the technology-creating process, where the raw materials are mined in mines controlling by violent thugs who utilize fear tactics and unspeakable brutality to shore up their power? (And what about the component-making process that often occurs in southeast Asia?)

     * It will cause you to never look at your technology the same way ever again.

Please take the time to listen to this, even if you don’t listen to the whole thing. And then, post below if you have any ideas/convictions about what our response, in particular what a Christian response, should be to this unavoidable reality of the world today.

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory   This American Life-110402  (<— click here to listen to the whole podcast, This American Life, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” first aired Janurary 6th, 2012.)


Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Muffins


2 responses to “Who makes all your crap?

  1. Josh Young

    March 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    • jlundewhitler

      March 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Josh— yes I did— and I read the article in the NY Times that followed. It’s a shame that the message he told will likely be dismissed now because of the means by which he went about doing it. The fact is, we still need to pay better attention about how the things we buy affect others, not just in the short-term but the long-term as well. It’s also interesting because I’ve been studying interpretation and “history” and how it is “narrated” (and sometimes imaginatively)…. and the ethical considerations there. This case raises many interesting questions. Is taking events that happened to other people and applying them to your own experience ethical? When we make such decisions in order to be more compelling , do people feel “taken in” when they discover that the events did not occur in the same way or order? I’m really interested in what other people think about these things…


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