With a death toll of over 1,100 people from a collapsed clothing factory, the Bangladesh government agreed to allow garment workers to form unions without permission from factory owners. If that isn’t startling enough, in this $20-billion US industry the minimum wage for this ‘out-sourced’ service is $38. US/month. When was the last time you earned a dollar a day for your services? And what do you think are the chances a union is going to be able to negotiate fair pay for fair work in Bangladesh? The answer to both these questions probably leaves you feeling cynical and uncertain about how you can be helpful.
As members of a global community, what touches one of us touches all of us. It would be too easy to find fault with the factory owner or the Bangladesh government. In this case, responsibility is also shared with those companies who took their manufacturing offshore because of cheaper production costs and with those of us who purchased their cheaper clothing. The moral and ethical issues are as complex as the economic ones and frankly leave most of us wondering what to do.
If you find yourself in this decision dilemma, then you are experiencing what Einstein referred to when he so eloquently stated “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” In other words, yesterday’s solutions (unionizing, wage increases, safety programs, embargos) are no longer enough to manage the complexity of today’s social and economic problems.
If you believe as I do that we create our own reality, then it is safe to say — when everything around us is changing, then everything within us has already changed. What I am alluding to here (and in Bangladesh) is an increasing awareness of our shifting global consciousness. We are shifting from a global society previously unaware of authentic purpose and value into a mass consciousness no longer willing to sustain what we do not value — inequity and inhumanity. The very fact we are aware of the plight of Bangladesh’s garment workers allows us to expand our tribal or national attitude into a more inclusive sense of community. We can no longer ignore what we cannot see.
Additionally, we begin to question why others in the world suffer with what we take for granted. This more inclusive attitude brings to the forefront what we personally value, and what we value drives ours behaviour. In other words, we use our values to source out solutions to our problems. In the case of Bangladesh’s inequity and inhumanity, my personal values of peace, love and joy led me to sign five different petitions that went directly to clothing manufacturers like Joe Fresh, H & M and Calvin Klein as well as clothing distributors like Loblaws and Superstore. I like to think of it this way. If each of us comes up with one action, in support of our personal values, to root out inequity and inhumanity, each ripple in the global ocean will eventually create a tsunami wave of radical transformation.
A first step we can all take is to be aware of what our personal values are and then to act upon them. To clarify what you hold valuable, complete the values list from my earlier blog, Designing the Adaptive System: Changing Values. For greater insight on the importance of values in decision making, read my book, From Now to WOW: An Invitation to Transformation.
Be clear about your own personal values so that when a challenge confronts you, you can ask yourself, as I did, “What is one action I can take in the service of peace, love and joy?” Whatever the action, it must serve all three values. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t serve you. When you find an action that serves your three values and you act upon it, you will feel a sense of completion knowing you have added your ripple of awareness, attitude and action to expanding our global consciousness toward greater humanity and equity.
Share your action(s) here on my blog so others may benefit from your gift.