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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tragic Loss of Life

260 Souls Lost

So what was the final death toll up in Boston?  Three was the last I saw, and, of course, 144 wounded, some terribly wounded.  At the Texas factory, the death toll has risen to 15 with 200 injured.  Back to back tragedies here.  But did you see the news yesterday about the 260 killed by the collapse of a clothing sweat shop outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, with over 1000 injured?  (At least those are the last numbers I have seen…there is quite a variation out there.)  After the building had been ordered evacuated as unsafe the day before.  The workers were ordered back in by the owners the next day, told to ignore the cracks.  The same owners who are now in hiding. 

I got to travel to Dhaka last year, and heard it said that the Bengali people are the happiest people on earth.  And let me tell you, I have never seen smiles bigger than those I saw in Bangladesh…..sometimes on the faces of people who had absolutely nothing.  I passed by some of those sweat shops, some lit up in full swing late into the night.  While there are some very modern and beautifully structured buildings there, there are some that are clearly questionable….and I kind of wondered about the techniques they used….notice the bamboo in the pictures!  Since it isn’t our country, it doesn’t receive the attention that our national tragedies do, even though the death toll is significantly larger and the wounded exponentially more.  But it doesn’t have anything to do with us, right?  Except that the clothes from that building have been purchased by U.S. stores like WalMart or Dress Barn according to multiple articles.  CNN had an article that said: 

“The resulting catastrophe is the latest to befall Bangladesh’s accident-prone garment industry, which employs more than 4 million people — most of them women — but regularly comes under scrutiny for its slipshod safety standards.”  (http://myfox8.com/2013/04/25/nearly-200-killed-in-collapse-of-clothing-factory-in-bangladesh/)

FOUR MILLION PEOPLE!!   In “slipshod safety standards.”  And an “accident-prone garment industry.”          
 I like finding bargains as much as the next person, but events such as this should give us all pause, especially in a time when we can find fair trade articles if we look for them.  We say that at least they have a job, but it isn't a job that really enables people to get ahead in life.  It is more like slavery at subsistence wages.  I would be remiss NOT to tell you that I got to see first hand that there are people working to help these women and their families have a chance at a better life.  Education in the most rural of areas.  Job skill training and self employ opportunities, as well as nutrition and agricultural guidance are among the things a few people are doing to make a difference in the lives of regular people.  It is a wonderful alternative to dangerous sweatshops that keep their workers in abject poverty.  You might consider supporting such groups, by making fair trade purchases and supporting groups that are working to improve conditions.

In Dhaka I saw toddlers playing in the dirty gutter with discarded video tape as their toys.  I saw individuals sleeping on pushcarts or three wheeled bikes, apparently the only beds they have.  I saw inner city and rural women, bound in poverty, but finding a way out through the training they were receiving. 

Anyway, does it bother anybody else that we have such a high value on lives in our country, but not so much when it is out of our purview?   Kind of an “out of sight out of mind” concept.  I also heard there have been tens of thousands killed in Syria’s uprising.  The tragic list of worldwide needless loss of life is staggering.  And it is also significant, I think, that the folks who died in Texas and Boston are in environments where they would have at least had the chance to find out about Jesus and enter eternity prepared and forgiven.  In Dhaka, such opportunities are extremely few, so the lives lost in garment tragedies there likely enter a Christless eternity. 
I guess I just wanted to share a bit.  For those of you going through a divorce, sometimes things like this can bring some perspective….because life could be a lot worse than it is even in divorce here in America.  For millions of people, their lives daily are far, far more tragic.  Pray for the people of Bangladesh, won’t you?  It so reminds me of Jesus’ statement that the laborers for the kingdom are few.  And as we mourn our losses here in Texas and Boston, could we also mourn those whose lives existed and ended in pathetically tragic circumstances?  And maybe give a second thought when we check our clothing tags…care a bit more about the person at the sewing machine.

TL:dr  Our national mourning could be expanded to also mourn those we give no second thought to, the garment factory workers in Bangladesh (May God have mercy on their souls.)

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