I stumbled across a series called Sweatshop; a 50-minute series, broken into 5 short episodes. I watched it in one sitting. It’s about 3 Norwegian teenagers who made a journey to Cambodia to experience the working conditions of the garment industry. Sweatshop is a term used to describe working conditions that are deemed unacceptable, dangerous and unfair, yet most of these sewing factories work for large names like H&M, Joe Fresh and Walmart. And while the company’s goal is to decrease cost and increase profit by outsourcing, their employees across the world are struggling to put food on the table. While watching this documentary, I thought of this quote:
To help the poor to a capacity for action and liberty is something essential for one’s own health as well as theirs. There is a needful gift they have to offer, which cannot be offered so long as they are confined by poverty. – Rowan Williams
For years I have wondered what kind of gift the poor might have for the world that the rich (such as you and me) cannot possibly have. If there was a magic wand that could free the poor to the point of independence at this very moment, what would they know? What could we learn from them? The answer is clear, and the answer is important. They may not have any education to contribute to the world. They may not be able to keep up with our established technology. They may not speak our universal language. But they do have something to a far greater extent than anyone. They know the real meaning of suffering. They have an unmatched level of perseverance, patience and tolerance. They live by the saying “do not give up”. In the short film, they ask for nothing more than just to get by. They only want to feed their children, siblings and parents. Let alone education and health. This is a population which has not yet been affected by greed. This a population that has seen and experienced the worst first hand, yet still knows how to hope, and how to be grateful. Looking at the mindset of our society, we take so much for granted to the point of disgust. We keep on taking more from those who already have nothing and we turn a blind eye. Rowan Williams is certainly right in saying that they have a needful gift to offer us. A gift and a lesson on how to be strong, and how to appreciate.