While a colleague was working on my computer the other day, he shared his interest in Hip Hop culture and Rhyme. He then rapped a piece he had written:
I've fallen in love and I'm preparing for marriage
working a year of double time for the woman I cherish
convinced that true love is only measured in karats
by a tradition of consumerism, an addiction I inherited
study the trade, you'll see it's colonial heritage
and that a mining of "a diamond is forever" oppressive
linked purposefully with our celebrated weddings
so we'll never think about the hell and death that we're spreading
corporations know cheap diamonds come from tyrants
so they fund their armies so they can ensure that there's violence
to keep the price down and to maximize their margins
so they can make a fortune over what they bought for a bargain
what's even worse is that we've cursed these people
promoted sociopaths and rewarded what's evil
funded warlords who torture and steal
who we support every time we drop to our knees and say,
"will you marry me?"
My friend challenges us to think - to ask why we do things and to consider what our actions could bring to bear.
The United Nations reports that $23 million in blood diamonds are being smuggled into international diamond markets. Blood diamonds have killed over 4 million people and made refugees of millions more (Amnesty International USA). The insatiable demand for the gem has been tapped into by rebel groups to fuel savage wars in West Africa. The market has also funded Al Qaeda (Washington Post, A19, July 13,2004).
Many see a diamond as a symbol of love and commitment, other times of wealth and power. How many see it as causing so much torment and death in Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Liberia? How many see it as costing the lives of millions of women, men and children?
An article in Amnesty Magazine recounts the story of Jusu Lahia, a 15 year old that was wounded by an exploding rocket-propelled grenade. At that time, he was a child soldier in Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front; the same rebel group that terrorized tens of thousands of people by hacking off their arms, legs, lips and ears with machetes and axes. The insurgents spared thousands of other but enslaved them as prisoner-laborers to dig up gems we covet from muddy open-pit mines.
Countless suffer and die that we might sport a rock upon which our society has bestowed inordinate meaning and value.
“Will You Marry Me?” by David Tansey. “Diamond Skull” by Damien Hirst.