When I was a kid, I used to covet expensive Reebok or Nike shoes. Now that I’m an adult and fully understand how poor laborers (often children) in China, Vietnam, etc are making shoes, it makes me feel ridiculous for lusting after something that the workers only see as a way to buy rice to eat.
As parents, is there any value in having your kids understand this? If money/safety/logistics was no object, would it be valuable to have your kids tour the Asian sweatshops making the shoes, or Polo shirts, or action figure toys? (Or if logistics made that field trip unrealistic, you could force them to watch a video of the workers toiling in the factories.) Or does this inject needless guilt into children with zero effect on the morals the child ends up having as an adult?
(This is not a disguised rant against globalism and capitalism. I understand that children sewing shoes, while harsh, is better than living a life scavenging in landfills or subsistence farming.)
Another example with food. I grew up on hamburgers and hotdogs like most kids. Is there any value for kids to see how cows, pigs, chickens are slaughtered and prepared for them to eat? Or does exposing them to blood and guts just fills their head with nightmares that serves no purpose? We already expect high school kids to dissect earthworms and frogs in science class so maybe watching cows get chopped up is no big deal.
(This is not a disguised vegetarian sermon. Although meat is not my favorite dish, I do eat it occasionally. I’ve also seen my mother prepare a live chicken in the morning, cut its throat, gut it, and cook it in soup for dinner that night. I’ve seen a real rabbit shot and skinned but I’ve not seen a cow slaughtered from beginning to end.)
The idea isn’t to force a guilt-trip into children so they prefer 2nd-hand flip-flops over Nike shoes or potatoes from the backyard garden instead of McDonald’s hamburgers. That’s not realistic. But maybe get them to have a different perspective on the shoes or burgers. See the shoes as more of a utility instead of a fashion item. And they still eat hamburgers but waste less of it because you saw an actual animal die for it to get to your plate.
Any value in this or is just a pointless guilt-trip?
On other hand, I notice that many adult women like diamonds even though they are aware of “Africa conflict diamonds.” So maybe it doesn’t make any difference. On the other hand, “conflict diamonds” might be too abstract and too distant to affect consumer preferences.
But on the other other hand (I got 3 hands), canned tuna seemed to take a public relations hit when people became aware of dolphins getting caught in nets.
Seems like no consistent pattern to all this. Well, dolphins are cute and cows & pigs & African miners are ugly. Maybe that’s the hidden logic.