Have An Ethical Engagement
Love and no conflict diamonds are all you need.
A wedding is a happy time, a time for drunken strangers to come together in Vegas, a time for Internets to catfish lonely spinsters out of green cards, for gold diggers and horny octogenarians to get their hands on what they want, for cousins to shrink the gene pool, for closeted homosexuals to make an ill-fated stand against the inevitable. I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about it.
If I know your partner (and I do, intimately) I know their heart’s in the right place. I know when you pop the question and offer unto them the ring that will forever symbolise your union they’ll have but one thought running through their mind: what are the moral implications here? It’s a good question. After all, the key to a successful marriage is to start as you mean to go on. For example, if you plan to cheat repeatedly on your partner it’s best to mention it up front, see how it goes down. Equally, if you plan to be insufferably self-righteous your starting point is an ethically sourced engagement ring.
Assuming you’re following tradition rather than thinking for yourself your ring will need a diamond. Here’s where the butter starts flying: in the late 1990s and early 2000s the world noticed diamonds were often mined and refined in appalling conditions and used to fund conflicts in Angola, Côte D’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Buy a rock from your local ring emporium, you could be funding weapons for child soldiers or chipping in for pitiful wages and supporting inhuman working conditions.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is the industry’s safeguard, aiming to ensure conflict diamonds are removed from the market. Established in 2003 and supported by United Nations resolutions, KPCS boasts 55 industry members from 82 countries accounting for an estimated 99.8% of the rough diamond market. That’s nice and all, but like everyone with a couple of brain cells and a half decent memory we don’t have much faith in industry self-regulation. Despite progress, Global Witness and Amnesty International say the Kimberley Process’s definition of conflict diamonds is too narrow, leaving loopholes for tons of human rights abuses in supply chains including child labour, summary executions, rape, enforced disappearances and looting.
None of which is helping you. Their dad’s loading shotguns and you’re no closer to an ethical ring. So what’s to be done? First, you could check Human Rights Watch’s ranking of retailers, grading them according to how much attention they pay to their sourcing and supply chains. Having settled on a retailer you could ask them what guarantees they can give you you’re not buying a conflict diamond. If nothing else it’ll show it remains a consumer concern. You could go for lab-grown diamonds that remove any doubt of conflict or environmental horror. Or you could go for Fairtrade jewellery or for rocks sourced from areas free from conflict: online stores sell diamond rings from Canada, Wales and other glamorous spots. That won’t bring money to the world’s poorest people who could do with the business, but it also won’t bring them harm through conflict. This is one of those cases of easy choice/few options/lousy solution so we’ll just take the best of what’s on offer. Worst case, if you don’t get it right the first time there’s always your second marriage as a do-over.
Have an ethical engagement
Avoid conflict diamonds
Wipe out the industry
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Like most of you, when I first saw WALL-E I assumed it was a documentary and was relieved to find we had at last discovered a solution to the madness of short-term landfillery. However, on attempting to contact and marry EVA, Pixar security guards informed me not just that I would be charged with breach of the peace but also that the film was a work of speculative fiction.
Devoted as you are to yer man The Zero, and as closely as you monitor my good works, you’ll be aware I do the odd bit of fundraising in spite of hating it almost completely. The past few years I’ve been meddling with Yaknak Projects, a small charity set up by a few friends to run two children’s home in Nepal. They need £16,000 a year to keep the homes running, a delightful spot of constant pressure that cheers them greatly.
As you’d expect from a man in my position, I have literally thousands of children. The groupies that gather at the foot of Zero Towers are as fertile as they are up for it, and the rise of my master race is progressing nicely. Sadly, due to the sheer size of my collective progeny, all of whom are disabled rad-fems, I am unable to support any of them financially or emotionally, thus creating twice as many social problems as I was hoping to solve.
So there I was a few weekends back, minding me own business, spending a reasonably pleasant day in the company of friends, or at least people paid to be friendly towards me on account of how my fame prevents anyone getting too close, when I witnessed what can only be described as a road traffic accident, being as how it was an accident involving traffic that took place on a road. I won’t lie to you: it was full on proper scary.
With the Olympics all done with and the Paralympics prepping itself for interest considerably less feigned than usual, it’s time to reflect on the heroes at whom we marvel, the champions who capture our hearts, the icons who inspire a generation. Jessica Ennis. Usain Bolt. Me.
That whooshing sound round the back of your head was February going past us and past me and past this blog in particular. Being as how I’m spending my days chained to the desk writing essays and my nights chained to the desk drooling on them, the old do-gooding has taken a back seat of late. Unless you count the social work. Which no one does. Tell people you want to be a social worker, they make like you’ve offered them a glass of cancer flavoured piss.
The problem with this social work lark is although I’m getting stuck in to solid gold do-gooding on a daily basis, the confidential nature of it all means it ain’t worth shit for blogging. I go out, I do good, I come home, I write essays, I use every drop of energy and I’ve got on non-blogging activities and meanwhile this place gets neglected and cobwebbed and dusty and forgotten, going all potty and Miss Havisham and playing bridge with Buster Keaton.
You’ll recall how last year I finally worked up enough balls to give up a safe job in the middle of recession and go back to uni. And how I’m now training as a social worker, taking my meddler status from amateur to professional. You’ll recall all of this because you are, in the act of reading this blog, engaging in the last legal form of stalking. You’re watching me from afar, waiting for the right moment to ask for an autograph, tell me you’re my biggest fan, or take me to your underground den of torture and have me as your bride.
They say the word ‘hero’ is overused these days, applied to anyone who kicks a ball into a net or resists the metric system or rescues orphans from a burning paedophile ring. But I’d argue in some cases the word ‘hero’ is not used enough. I’m thinking particularly here in the case of me.