SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

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  • The Jewlcrest of WisdomDateWed Nov 20, 2013 4:35 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text #1: "Another problem with Capitalism is that while it rewards success, it does not protect against failure. In fact the nature of the game is that for there to be winners, there must be losers"

    Response #1: This quote reminds me of many discussions that have happened in class. Though capitalism promotes success and economic growth, it does not protect against failure. Nina once said in class, "people with safety nets are more likely to take risks." Because capitalism does not protect against failure, people without safety nets are less likely to take leaps of faith in the capitalistic market we live in. Unfortunately this leads to the winners, mentioned in the quote above, will continue to win, while the losers continue to lose. This contributes to the ever growing gap between the upper and working classes in the United States. Though other countries face this problem as well.

    Text #2: "The advertising industry exists primarily to stimulate these desires and in some cases to invent them whole out of cloth"

    Response #2: This quote was very thought provoking for me. I intend to major in marketing and thinking about the corruption within the advertising industry makes me question my path. Although I have thought a lot about the business industry, reading these words in a solemn writing such as this one really brings forth questions for me. People have become very materialistic in today's society, especially in the United States. The people may not be totally to blame, as there perceptions are shaped by the exposure. The advertising industry works endlessly to expose people to things that do not need in attempts at making people desire these goods simply to turn profits.

  • Building on FaithDateTue Nov 12, 2013 8:00 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Test 1: "But first, what is a faith-based organization"

    Response 1: This quote was extracted from the second page of the text. At this point I was still getting a sense of the author and the main point of the passage. Then this particular quote caught my attention. The author describes a faith-based organization as a religious one. I have to criticize the author's ignorance in this instance. Faith is not limited to religion, but can also be secular. Though many people find their faith in religion it is not all people. Many find faith in other forms. Faith is personal and should not ever be generalized in the way that Packard did in this part of the passage.

    Text 2: "Preaching just gets the words in the air. It is in the development of community that the words are put into practice."

    I was extremely moved by this quote. At this instance in the passage I was reminded of Father Jim O'Shea when he discussed Monsenor Oscar Romero. Father Jim said that the movie about the Monsenor is only a movie unless we do something about it. This is exactly what Packard suggests in her quote in the passage. People often speak without backing their words or promises. Words only have meaning for so long. Eventually, words must be matched by actions. As the famous quote states, "actions speak louder than words." As people, we must act when we desire change.

  • Downward MobilityDateWed Nov 06, 2013 4:21 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text #1: To understand the logic of that world, we begin, once again, with insecurity

    Response #1: Brackley writes that people are insecure by constitution. People fear pain, failure and death. He claims that today's day and age encourages insecurities in people. We worry about crime, disaster and war. He discusses the insecurities people feel in regards to money. Social status is often determined by socioeconomic class; people worry about their social standings. I agree with Brackley when he suggests that people worry far too much. However, it is a part of human nature to fear pain and death and to desire wealth and prosperity. Although in society today, demands of success may be held to an extreme importance, without this worry people would not be motivated.

    Text #2: We have a deep need to belong, to feel that we are valuable and our lives worthwhile.

    Response #2: This section of the passage was extremely moving for me. All of what Brackley writes I agree with, I had just never thought of status in such a concise and straightforward way. He says "society tells us who we are and where we fit." This proves true, especially in today's culture where the media is more accessible than ever before. Society assigns us roles, even as basic as honest versus dishonest. People exercise these roles unless they break away and defy their roles significantly. Our personal worth can even be innate, by variables such as gender, race and social class. Since these variables cannot be broken, it is difficult to change the role we are assigned, which leads to our self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

  • The Story of StuffDateWed Oct 23, 2013 3:21 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Actual #1: The US outputs 4 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste every year.

    Response #1: The video contained a great deal of facts; however, this fact in particular really stood out to me. Often, when we talk about sustainability in class, we discuss poor wages and working conditions for people. We rarely discuss environmental sustainability. The United States government implements standards for fair wages and working conditions for the people of the workforce in order to sustain the people of the country. The government lacks in its environmental sustainability efforts. Environmental toxins affect the people when people breath in polluted air. These pollutions can have long term effects on the body. One mentioned in the video is that pollution negatively affects breast milk. Although the United States outputs a very large amount of waste, other, more industrial countries such as China or India likely output far more than the United States.

    Actual #2: The video portrays a "Whole Paycheck"

    Response #2: Whole Foods is a grocery store that sells organic, natural and sustainable groceries. There are few companies, such as this one, that dedicate their mission to providing natural, sustainable, and fairly traded choices to the public. In order to do so, Whole Foods charges high prices. This is largely because purchasing organic and sustainable is more expensive to begin with, and to remain profitable organic sellers must charge higher prices. The video mocks the high prices at Whole Foods by suggesting that it uses one's "whole paycheck" to shop at the store. I think it is really unfortunate that more people cannot live and eat sustainably simply because doing this is out of their budget. As organic farming methods continue to improve, prices of organic and natural goods may decrease.

  • Dollars and Sense DignityDateWed Oct 16, 2013 3:49 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text 1: "I want to share with you how I came to this hopeful perspective and my mission to help provide low-cost, high quality assisted living solutions for seniors."

    Response 1: The author opened with this powerful saying. She describes her work as hopeful and claims that was she does is her mission, not just her job. This opening sets the tone for the rest of the passage, allowing the reader to identify with the emotional perspective the author conveys, rather than reading the passage as if the author were talking merely about her job. Conchy Bretos, the author of this passage, expresses her hope in the senior care living business, yet admits that she was not always as positive. She exemplifies the power of doing good by making a career out of her passion of fairness.

    Text 2: "Before our model, residents of public and subsidized housing were evicted from their units when they could no longer live independently."

    Response 2: Before Mia Senior Living Solutions many elderly people were evicted simply because they were not physically able to take care of their properties. These people were forced to move into expensive and depressing nursing homes, or would have to become homeless. Mia provides a solution by allowing the elderly to remain in the comfort of their homes by bringing care to them. Mia Living Solutions accomplishes the never ending quest of saving the government money as well as creating and maintaining safe and comfortable places for the elderly to live. Mia is both fair and nurturing to its customers while simultaneously conducting a profitable business. Other business should consider following a path similar to that of Mia Living Solutions.

  • Bruni and UelmanDateTue Oct 08, 2013 1:04 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text #1: "If this is how human beings really are, than the basis for a common life cannot be love, but fear"

    Response #1: The author makes a bold statement by saying this. He suggests that the relationship of fear is stronger than that of love. He claims that the bond of love is broken at many opportunities especially when one tries to better themselves. However, the bond of fear is hardly ever broken due to the nature of this type of relationship. When one fears another person, the individual becomes inferior or permissive to the dominant counterpart. Fear enables control. I believe that love enables control as well. The author does not mention this in his writing. When love is present in a relationship, an individual gives up a vulnerability, giving control to the other person. The author says, "fear presents a punishment that never fails" but he forgets that love presents a commitment that never fails. Love has its own consequences.

    Text #2: “A manager was ready to fire an employee until one of the chemists suggested that he should first listen to the employee with greater attention."

    Response #2: When people think of a manager they often limit their definition to a person in charge. However, a manager is much more than a person in charge. A manager makes decisions, delegates work and the like, but what people forget is that a manager must earn trust from his or her employees. This quote shows a manager that did not listen and truly understand his employees. Management is largely a relationship with subordinates, a relationship that works in two directions as opposed to the manager being the only one who has a say. When there are positive relationships within a business, the business works more efficiently due to a positive work environment. This good morale is derived from relationships, most importantly the relationships between layers of managers.

  • Monsenor The Last Journey of Oscar RomeroDateTue Oct 01, 2013 12:55 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text 1: "They learned that it was not God keeping them hungry, but the government and the wealthy institutions."

    Text 2: Oscar Romero's life and his affect on his followers throughout the entire video

    Response 1: The quote, "They learned that it was not God keeping them hungry, but the government and the wealthy institutions" is extremely eye opening for me. This exemplifies the power that lies within the government. People initially blamed God for not having enough food, which hindered peoples' relationships with God. Eventually the people realized God was not the one keeping them hungry, it was instead, the wealthy institutions and government. The unequal distribution of money is extremely prevalent in El Salvador and the government intended to keep this distribution. Without support of the government it would be impossible to overcome poverty and reach an equal distribution of income. Archbishop Romero stepped in and helped where the government lacked. He instilled hope in people, which simultaneously allowed them to mend their relationships with God.

    After watching the video, I did some research of my own. I wanted to know more about Oscar Romero because I was so impressed with his work in El Salvador. He was a magnificent man that captured the hearts of many Catholics. What made this even more admirable was his followers often were people who questioned their relationships with God. Archbishop Romero was able to convince the people to have trust in the Catholic virtues and in God. He instilled faith into many who had lost their way. The Monsenor stood up for his church when the Catholics were being persecuted. He watched many of his colleagues, friends, and followers fall to the persecutors. In, March of 1980 Romero was assassinated during mass, after he had asked Salvadorian soldiers to stop carrying out the governments orders as these orders were a violation to human rights.

  • What Money Can't BuyDateTue Sep 24, 2013 12:32 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    Text #1: Sandel addresses the meaning of apology. There is a company in China that offers the service of apologizing. This company's slogan is "We say sorry for you." Sandel explores whether or not an apology like this is effective.

    Response #1: Sandel questions the effectiveness of an apology that does not come from the wrong doer. I do not believe such an apology could be effective. The emotional response tied to an apology make the words come to life. Without the presence of the party actually involved, no emotions could possibly be conveyed. Sandel says that the apologizers that work for the company wear professional clothing and often have college degrees. This seems to distance the actual apology even further from any emotional meaning. In fact, it seems to me that the apologizer is not strong enough to face that he or she was wrong. Paying for an apology is nothing more than an easy way out of a bad situation; a lazy man's solution.

    Text #2: Sandler touches on the meaning of honorific goods. He admits that a Nobel prize cannot be bought, nor can a college degree. The physical medal or piece of paper cannot be bought, but Sandel asks how does one obtain the knowledge to reach such honors. The answer is most likely education. If education is paid for, to some degree, achievements earned are also paid for.

    Response #2: This section of the reading really made me think. Sandel's argument does seem very logical. At the end of a college career, the goal is to obtain a degree. Is this merely a piece of paper reflecting four years paid for in full? Or does this degree represent four years of hard work, studying, midterms and finals? When I was reading this excerpt, I found myself jumping between these two questions. I would like to think my degree is worth more than my tuition bill, but my cynical side reminds me that if my check doesn't arrive, I will not receive a degree of any sort. Possibly, I would not be as cynical if there were more transparency as to where the money goes.

  • Blog Post #2DateTue Sep 17, 2013 7:00 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    1. The first text discusses the differences between traditional trade methods and methods of fair trade. The reading explains why fair trade is important in underdeveloped countries.

    2. The second passage is in the form of a Ted Talk. This video is titled "Looks aren't everything, believe me I'm a model" and is hosted by Cameron Russell, a model. She explains how people are often treated unfairly, and judged by looks or preconceived notions.

    This text clarified why traditional trade methods do not suffice for people in underdeveloped countries. Often in first-world nations, such as the United States, the government imposes subsidies, tariffs, taxes and policies to set price standards in order to protect both sellers and consumers. Large and developed governments also provide labor laws to ensure people can maintain a high standard of living. Contrastingly, in third-world nations, the government does not have the resources to provide these subsidies. According to the National Labor Committee, the average wage for overseas production is one dollar per day, and this provides less than twenty-five percent of the minimum needs of a family of five. In order to produce and farm at low cost, environmental standards and working conditions are ignored. This was extremely eye opening for me. I believe, as people of a country of wealth, Americans have a duty to aid our international neighbors as they attempt to make a living for themselves and their families. It is important for businesses and individual consumers alike to examine the power of their purchase. Purchasing products that are certified Fair Trade enables artisans to receive fair wages while simultaneously maintaining environmental standards.

    2. The TED Talk video reveals how image can be crafted to create a desired image or perception. The speaker, Cameron Russell starts the talk in a revealing dress and high heels. As the speech progresses she changes into modest clothing, making her appear much more like an average woman. She shows pictures of her doing typical activities such as vacationing with family and posing with her soccer team. Beside those pictures, she shows photographs of herself modeling during the same time period. In the first pictures she appeared as an average looking teenage girl, in the second, she looks glamorous, almost artificial, not even like the same woman. She says the pictures of her modeling are not her at all, it is pictures of a woman sculpted by hair and makeup artists and expensive clothing. I feel that I am able to identify with Cameron. Depending on where I am I change my appearance from clothes, to make up, to behavior. With family I conduct myself differently than with friends, which is also different from my behavior in the workplace and school setting. My many different identities all make up me, but each is sculpted form of myself. All people change depending on their settings. This makes me question when a person is revealing their true selves. I found myself asking: are people ever able to be their true selves without the worry of judgment? Cameron concludes by conveying that looks are not everything. How someone looks, regardless of setting is not the most important aspect.

  • Using Our Purchasing Power for Justice and HopeDateThu Sep 12, 2013 3:31 am
    Blog post by hshort2

    1. The reading on Using Purchasing Power for Justice and Hope contained many biblical passages inserted into the reading, suggesting that the word of God influences the actions described. This passage offered moving statistics and stories of real people, including pictures which allows the reader to make a personal connection.
    2. The Disposable People Website displayed facts about slavery that deeply affected me. In fact, I found myself rereading the facts multiple times in disbelief.

    For me, most influential part of the Purchasing Power reading was the chart showing how the distribution channel affects the artisan's payment. In conventional trade, the artisan has no control over the price of the goods they produce and therefore, are often underpaid. The middleman, or retail seller, marks up the good by enormous margins, however, in order to keep the end price cheap enough for consumers only end up paying the artisan about five percent. When I saw this chart I began to question the products I own and where they came from. Most of my clothes are from undeveloped countries, and were most likely created by an underpaid artisan. I also began to question the food I eat and products I use every day. Typically, American consumers want to buy products and spend as little money as possible. Without even realizing it, the less money spent on a good results in less payment to an artisan.

    Although this reading was very moving, and contained a great deal of information and pictures, I was most influenced by the Disposable People website. I navigated to the website, not totally sure what to expect, I saw was a scrolling list of facts at the top of the page. The first one that scrolled read "There are nearly 27 million slaves in the world today." I read and reread this post nearly ten times. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I had no idea slavery was this prevalent today. I felt a pit grow in my stomach as I kept reading. The facts continued to scroll and I learned that nearly half of the slaves in the world today are children. These children are abused physically, sexually, and above all, mentally. One of the articles featured on the website was about the harvesting of shrimp. Nearly every shrimp has been touched by a slave, most often a child slave. Once the shrimp enter the global market they are impossible to track; therefore, finding the enslaved children is also impossible. I have always been interested in Fair Trade but reading these facts entices me to forgo cheap clothing for clothing I know has been bought and sold fairly.

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