Diamonds are forever. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds also fuel a $9 billion industry annually. These precious stones are used as symbols of status, affection, or unending love. However, I recently saw diamonds in a new light: as frivolous pieces of rock that are not worth all of the trouble that sometimes surrounds them. Beautiful yes, but in the end just a piece of earth.
What precipitated this change of perspective was the fact that I had just watched Blood Diamond. The 2006 film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, centers around the 1999 civil war in Sierra Leone and the issue of conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds, essentially, are diamonds that are mined in war zones in Africa and sold to finance the conflicts and line the pockets of the warlords. DiCaprio’s character is a smuggler, and in one of the early scenes in the movie, he is attempting to sneak across a border without the diamonds in his possession being detected. The border guards stop him and search his little party, which includes a small flock of sheep. One of the guards proceeds to search the sheep and slices into the back of one of the sheep’s neck, revealing dozens of small, bloody diamonds. There is a camera shot of the guard holding the discolored stones, all of which fit into the palm of his hand, and it was then that my perspective changed. Why do we place so much value on those stones? In that scene, they more resembled discolored pieces of kitty litter than precious gems. Granted, they were uncut and covered in blood, but it was a stark reminder that diamonds were really just rocks.
Thanks to the Kimberly Process, a U.N. resolution that certifies the origin of diamonds, less than 1% of the diamonds in the industry are from conflict zones. However, it was more than the issue of blood diamonds that rankled me; it was the mentality of people who placed so much value on these silly stones! There were scenes in the movie where people were killed over struggle for a specific diamond and I was frustrated at the disregard for human life that was displayed. The life of a human is of a far greater value than a diamond. Oh how we chase after the things of this world!
My response to this, beyond one of frustration and anger, was to do something. I racked my mind for what I could do to help the world see how frivolous it was to pursue riches at the cost of human suffering. Then I remembered the all-powerful weapon I had at my disposal: prayer. So often I forget that it is not just advocacy and governmental legislation that can fix seemingly insurmountable problems. Prayer is invaluable because only God can change the hearts and minds of people. So I ask that you join me in responding to the problems of this world not with apathy but with action: action that is spearheaded by fervent prayer, laying our requests and petitions before our Sovereign God.
A concluding side note: Many people respond to this issue and say that it is not current because the Kimberly Process eliminated much of the blood diamond trade. While the Kimberly Process did greatly reduce trade, it is still an issue. Here is a link to a BBC article from April 2009 that discusses the current problems if you are interested: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8007406.stm