China and I are not cool. Or more accurately, China is the current scapegoat for my travel conscience. I firmly believe that how I spend my money needs to try and match my ethical standards. Really, the only feedback you have into products or places is your money. No corporation or government goes on to Facebook and randomly checks how many members the anti-whoever groups have. Why would they care? The only statistic they want or need to know is money. All of the rhetoric and slogans in the world are barely a murmur compared to the sound of cash. So when you choose to travel to a country, you contribute your money to their community and government, and in turn you’re endorsing them and their policies. That is why I will not visit China — I strongly disagree with the Chinese government’s policies and tactics and will not support them with my hard earned money. Things are always a bit more complicated though, aren’t they?
I’m not so certain that my China boycott really stands up to logical analysis. When you start thinking of countries that have what we’ll call “issues” then you start getting a pretty lengthy list. I’ll save you the rhetoric on their various malignancies. Suffice to say that I believe a government has the obligation to conduct themselves responsibly regardless of their culture or political system. Do I intend to boycott every country that makes that list? Honestly, no I don’t. Hell, even my beloved Canada is far from earning an ethical gold star. Which leaves me with a lot of questions. If I can’t stick to all my ethics, then why bother with any of them? Is there any redeeming value in boycotting one or two locations if I can’t do them all? I suppose my current stance is hypocritical, but what is the acceptable alternative? Surely it must be better to take some stances rather than none. Finding a balance that works is something I struggle with, and haven’t really figured out yet.
Perhaps I’m just becoming older and crankier, but it seems at times that few folks think beyond their own self when the wallet comes out. How many animal lovers do you know that use products that are tested on animals? How many people praise Amnesty International while wearing diamond rings and sweatshop made shoes? How many people at the Earth Day rally drove there alone in their SUV with an imported bottle of water resting comfortably in the drink holder? I’m not trying to harp on the negative, but the whole lack of individual conscience is just so damn frustrating sometimes. It’s much like stubbing your toe then proceeding to bang the same toe on every corner for the next two days. When it’s already bugging you, then you notice it a lot more.
Were I able to make one cohesive point out of all this it would be to please consider what you are telling the world when you spend your money. What are you really supporting? Take that one extra moment to think about the bigger picture. Does that tourist attraction you’re about to visit exploit someone or something? Having worked for major corporations I can assure you that no one goes over the “monthly protest letters summary” in the shareholders meeting. It’s all just dollars. So until the flow of money mirrors your beliefs, nothing will change. Think of it like you’re voting with your money, or for that matter, your passport.
ps: Scapegoat is a strange word. I mean, I like goats, so I don’t see why we should blame them for stuff. And where does the scape come into it? Strange.