By the third week of class I felt that I had gotten more out of the contemplative exercise than I had previously. I truly gained some insight into myself that was different than the weeks before. It was different because I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Coincidentally I worked for an German Chocolatier and when I was in high school. Before starting the contemplative practice, I had myself convinced I already knew everything there was to know about chocolate. Essentially, this meant I knew how it was grown and produced. I knew where it was grown. I was taught about high-end European chocolate by a someone who was proud of their craft. I was molded into a chocolate snob, unsatisfied by a Snickers Bar or Reese’s Cup because I could “Taste the wax.”
Not once did anyone tell me that the cacao pods that I educated consumers about, the same pods that became fancy imported bulk chocolate, which was turned into locally hand-crafted artisan candies, may have been farmed at the hands of children…
What I learned about myself was deeper than in the first two weeks because I could see how having a preexisting bias made me wish I could be blind to the truth. I let the chocolate snob inside me tell me that I could still love expensive chocolate. That I could still buy luxury chocolates for my friends and family. That I could still feel the way I had felt about chocolate and forget what I just learned. I realized that since I had that capability; that the rest of the world has that capability. If we don’t want to face the facts, we won’t. If we already think we know the truth it will be harder to change our minds. It makes me think that education about the topics we’ve been covering in class needs to start from a younger age.
I like the lesson you got out of the contemplative practice. For me, it is a chance to see the lesson materials from different perspectives, sometimes revealing details that I didn’t catch the first time around.
Child labor is a touchy subject so I hope I don’t come across the wrong way on this. Ideally, no child should have to work to help sustain their family. But that fact is, there are many countries in this world where that isn’t realistic. For many families, it’s a choice between paying for school or having food to eat, an investment in the long term, or living long enough for the investment to pay off. The line between helping out around the house and working the fields can be blurred in those places. I don’t want to be quick to judge parents who are living in very different situations from mine. From my perspective it certainly seems like children can and are taken advantage of by companies, but I also wonder if a bad opportunity is better than no opportunity. I hope you don’t feel too bad about buying chocolate in the future.