Thursday, March 12, 2009


If you want to truly appreciate how powerful a photograph can be, you need to look at What Matters: the world's preeminent photojournalists and thinkers depict essential issues of our time created by David Elliot Cohen. Cohen has brought together talented photographers and policy experts to lay out 18 of the major crises facing our planet. Environmental issues, epidemic disease, festering hatreds and economic inequality stare out at you from the pages of this book.
I found one chapter in particular - that dealing with child labor - to be particularly depressing. In the battery recycling industry of Bangladesh, women and children crack apart discarded batteries with hammers to retrieve the carbon cores. Children as young as 3 are taught to rinse these cores in river water, becoming caked with black dust in the process. In this sad version of 'bring your child to work' day, babies lie on sacks next to their mothers, experiencing horrible pollution from the earliest age. In one photo, a young mother who appears to be about 15 cradles her little baby, who is jet-black with dust and bleeding from his nose due to chronic infections. The average Bangladeshi child makes less than $1 a week. As I stared at these photos, I saw my own little children covered in filth and working grueling hours in order to eat.
I guess I don't feel so bad about my 401(k)....

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