A Global Fruit with Global Implications

22 04 2008

Today in my political science course on globalization, we had guest author Jamal Nassar to speak on his book, Globalization and Terrorism.  On page 19 of the book, Nassar uses a metaphor to describe the United States’ role in international affairs:

“Our world today is similar to a ship on the high seas.  On this global ship, there are people who live in first-class cabins, others in second, some in third, and many way at the bottom in fourth-class cabins.  Regardless of where we live, we need to be concerned about the well-being of those in the lower cabins.  If we allow those cabins to rut, rust, and leak, the whole ship will sink.  We in the United States of America do not live in first-class cabins.  We live in the captain’s cabin.  While the captain of the ship gets the luxury of the captain’s cabin, the captain also gets the responsibility for the well-being of the whole ship.  Many Americans want to be the captain of the ship, but they prefer not to take responsibility for the state of the global ship.  We cannot have it both ways.”

Nassar, in our discussion, went on to say that we are responsible to correct our government when it does wrong.  Currently, we are on the side of oppression and occupation in regions like Iraq, Israel and Central America.  Whether they do it in the War on Terror or on banana plantations, our government and corporations are in support of violations of human rights.  We have the luxury of democratic freedoms, but we also have the responsibility of being the global superpower.  We are in the driver’s seat.  Currently, we are repeatedly running over the rights of people and sometimes even the people themselves in the developing world.

We, the American voters, are the ones who give the United States its power.  We are responsible for its abuses.  While we likely do not individually support unjust exploitation and innocent deaths, our collective nation’s actions speak otherwise.  Ignorance and apathy do not relieve us of our responsibilities.  By not doing anything, we are condoning the actions of the government and corporate powers.  We have voted for our elected officials; now we must hold them accountable for their actions.  They are representative of our actions.

Fresh Del Monte, a company based in the United States, is responsible for the mistreatment, disease and death of thousands of banana plantation workers in Central America.  It is time we questioned why they can get away with such practices.  We have a choice.  We can vote with our dollars and buy fair trade.  We can speak out and educate our families and friends.  We can use our online resources to research the truth.  We can organize and empassion.  We can make a difference.

The hour is upon us.  Banana workers need our help.  We are in the captain’s cabin.  It’s time we are accountable for the global actions of our country.