A Single garment – In memory of the Dhaka clothing workers

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.” Martin Luther king, Jr.

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PEMA CHODRON BOX – WHEN THINGS FALL APART

The shirt I’m wearing in the photo below was made in Bangladesh. I checked the label because the shirt was such a low price – $2.99.  It was the first of only a few times I`ve ever been in Wal-Mart. I urgently needed a clean shirt!

I really like the shirt, although now when I wear it I’ll think of it not just on my back, but also on the backs of Bengalis, “Tied in a single garment of destiny.”

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The minimum wage in Bangladesh is $38.00 per month. A person working 25 days per month will earn a mere $1.52 a DAY. I wouldn’t want to try to feed my family with that!

When people hear about the Bengalis poor building and labour standards, although intuitively we know it’s wrong, what else could we expect in paying $2.99 for a nice shirt. Unless of course, it`s from the Goodwill thrift store.

Let us remember that Bangladesh has had a traumatic history. It began its nationhood in 1970-71 in deep division with Pakistan. Over 1 million Bengalis were murdered during the reign of terror and civil war.

More recently Bengalis have suffered from climate change, including extreme flooding and droughts.  Their low lying landscape is one of the worlds most vulnerable to rising sea levels. And yet in terms of causing climate change, Bengalis are basically innocent, because they burn very little fossil fuel.

 

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This is what my desktop looked like as I wrote this blog. The child in the picture has only a few crumbs.

 

For the  younger generation:

The Concert for Bangladesh, was conceived by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison, and held August 1, 1971.  It was the first ever benefit concert of such magnitude, and by 1985 proceeds sent as humanitarian relief to Bangladesh were were estimated at 12 Million dollars.

Click here for a 2.56 minute You Tube overview video of the benefit concert.

 

BANGLADESH – by George Harrison 

Click here to listen to George’s passionate song for Bangladesh.

 

Bangladesh. Bangladesh. Such a great disaster,

I don’t understand but it sure looks like a mess.

Now please don’t turn away, I want to here you say,

“Free the people of Bangladesh.”

 

Bangladesh. Bangladesh. Now it may seem so far from where we are

it’s something we can’t reject, it’s something I can’t neglect.

I want you to give something to stop this pain,

We got to relieve Bangladesh.

 

With consideration of all this tragedy – and currently 324 people are confirmed dead – let us practice humility. Let us practice compassion. Let us practice ethical spending.

 

Namaste

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23 thoughts on “A Single garment – In memory of the Dhaka clothing workers

    • Thank you kindly for sharing this post Kate – your poem about Black Friday and consumerism was powerful. As long as so many people continue to buy like there is no tomorrow, sadly for many, there will be no tomorrow. May you continue to write from your heart, and to challenge the status quo, and business as usual. Best regards- Bruce

  1. Wow. Thanks so much for linking to my blog and books!

    This issue is one that seems almost hopelessly difficult to resolve. We can boycott products (but will we?); we can try to pressure these companies (to what effect with so little corporate governance?); we can pressure the government of Bangladesh (how?); sign accords (and followed?)

    One of the best books on this subject is Kelsey Timmerman’s’ “Where Am I Wearing?” which informed my thinking for Malled…he visited workers in four low-wage nations making our cheap garments and described their lives. Few writers have gone to these lengths.

  2. Great and timely post. The globalization of capital has allowed corporations to seek the lowest wages, lowest benefits, lowest safety standards in the most deprived areas of the world. This is an assault on workers everywhere else, as work conditions are driven to the lowest common global denominator.

    We need a “Buy Ethically” program to take off and force the largest 20 or so offenders/manufacturers to bow to the will of we all-powerful consumers. If we focused on the largest couple of dozen companies, I bet we could actually change something along these lines.

    When I saw the section of your post “PEMA CHODRON BOX – WHEN THINGS FALL APART”, it reminded me of the Yates poem “Second Coming”. (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172062).

    Maybe we can go for a happier ending to our current challenges than Yates chose?

    Thanks again for the great stuff.

    • The 2 lines of the poem which really got to me was this. . .

      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      I am really with you Glenn on choosing the happier ending – waiting for the 2nd coming, seems like no choice at all.

      Thanks for for comment and the reminder that the power of the boycott is real – not so long ago, that’s how Apartheid was defeated.

  3. Check out this excellent post titled “The price of cheap clothing — 377 die in Bangladesh factory collapse”

    Here is the link –
    http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/the-price-of-cheap-clothing-377-die-in-bangladesh-factory-collapse/

    Written by award winning journalist Caitlin Kelly, of Broadsideblog, she is also the author of two books, non-fiction:

    1) Malled – My Unintentional Career in Retail – http://malledthebook.com/sample/

    “Kelly’s powerful descriptions of retail…highlight so much of what is wrong with our economy” said David Madland, Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress. – book review

    2) Blown Away – American Women and Guns – http://blownawaythebook.com/aboutthebook/

    “The first national, neutral, nuanced examination of the intersection of American women and firearms: recreational, political, economic, professional, cultural, social and criminal, “Blown Away: American Women and Guns” offers a diverse chorus of voices.
    Kelly traveled the country to gather 104 original interviews, compelling stories of men, women and teens who love guns — and of those who hate, fear and fight against them. Whatever your position on gun ownership, you’ll find thought-provoking statistics and arguments.” – book synopsis.

    Thought I’d share this for anyone who may be interested.

  4. thank you for elevating the plight of this nation as awareness is the first step. having people like Mr. Harrison use their fame to get more aid is another big help. now i will be looking at clothes tags more closely.

    • Your welcome, sun.

      George (RIP) was my favourite Beatle – I loved his spirituality, and his music really speaks to me like a prayer – songs like “my sweet lord” and “give me love, give me love, give me peace on earth.”

      Of course my all time favourite is “Here comes the Sun” – I even created a seperate category in my ‘cloud” for that. The solar guy I am . . . 🙂

      See ya sunny!

      • ha ha…solar guy. that’s great! ☺ and the My Sweet Lord song is inspirational and very creative with the lyrics in both languages. ♥

  5. Here is an update on this post – not meaning to be ghoulish, but it has been 2 weeks since this tragedy, and the number of innocent people killed is now well above 1000.

    I really wonder in this Rich and Poor World – what is life worth? I’m just askin’

  6. Wonderful post!! Thanks Bruce for visiting my blog and leaving the link of this very touching post by you. Now I feel so guilty of wearing my Zara clothes which says are made in Bangladesh. It feels like I’m wearing blood and sweat of those dead !!! Hope humanity is still alive in this world and these dead souls get justice.

    Wishes from India,
    A. Mittal

    • I hear you about the clothing . . . recently I heard on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) Radio, a brief report about how if people just stopping buying clothing from Bangladesh, it will likely hurt the very people they are trying to help – argh – it such a complex world at times.

      Peace to you, and all . . . Bruce

    • Dear Sharon.
      Thank you. I am humbled by your words. And I am going to copy and post your daily reminders, next to my desk – it’s past 10.30 p.m. here. 🙂
      Peace to you, and all – Bruce

  7. I forgot about that concert, but remember it, and the times. Thank you for such a heart felt post, I deeply appreciate it. One of my friend’s lost a great great aunt in the Cooper Union shirtwaist factory fire in NYC, years ago. She speaks of it as if it were yesterday, such a fever of outrage. I imagine that the folks living in Bangladesh will do so over the generations, as well. These things don’t go away. There is no “away”, really.

    • Yes, so well put Susan. It is a sad history 😦 . . . repeating itself. Thanks for your appreciation, and your narrative about your friends great great aunt . It gives me hope that people don’t forget such injustice.

  8. Bittersweet memories of being inspired by George Harrison while reminded of what a skewed economic practice continues doing to people and the planet. I’ll enjoy listening to it today and generate a little hope, thanks!

    • Thanks Jackie. I really liked your ‘flower friday’ post. Your photograph, as always, is beautiful – and the quotes you choose, profound. The reminder from Georgia O’keefe was powerful. I especially liked how she made the anology of how it takes time to see – in this case the flower – like having a friend takes time. what a wonderful combination -seeing . . . flowers . . . and friendship.

      Thanks for your comments this past week to Fran’s disappearing in plain sight blog on education as peacemaking. She pointed out I was spelling your name wrong – opps.

      • Thank you for your kind words and visit! As far as Fran’s blog goes – It was my pleasure! I really enjoyed reading her posts and I’m especially enjoying her book. She is a very good writer. Don’t worry about my name – I liked the way you spelled it. It’s unique. 😀

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