Blood Diamonds

Politics — By on May 4, 2009 at 11:38 am

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


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  • linds

    Thank you so much for posting on this topic! Human atrocities linked with common and luxury items are something that those of us privileged to live outside war zones need to pay more attention to before we buy. How many of us bought food picked by slaves today? How many of us wear jewelry that fueled a trade that cost a human life? Ignorance isn’t bliss, and we can and should be held responsible for facilitating the evil actions of wicked men. As Edmund Burke says, all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
    Now if only we could confront recreational drug users in the US with drug war orphans in Jaurez, maybe we could slow that trade, too.

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  • Enigma

    Prayer…that’s you answer? Really? Swing and a miss.
    You mention activism and legislation and then completely gloss them over for something a lot…easier. Just closing your eyes and *thinking really hard* Seems that if prayer were actually the solution to a problem like this, then it would have worked for some of the tens of thousands who’ve been brutally murdered in conflicts involving blood diamonds as they fervently prayed for mercy just before their deaths.
    You could have gone somewhere with this, but instead you decided to do donuts in the parking lot of ineffectuality. All-powerful weapon indeed.

  • smmtheory

    Ignorance isn’t bliss, and we can and should be held responsible for facilitating the evil actions of wicked men.

    You mean, like when we allow Congress to fund abortions from taxpayer money? Or like when we allowed Saddam Hussein to exterminate his fellow countrymen?

  • ex-preacher

    A question for all who believe in intercessory prayer:
    How many prayers does it take to convince God to do the right thing?

  • smmtheory

    How many prayers does it take to convince God to do the right thing?

    How many prayers does it take to convince the person praying that God knows better what the right thing to do is?

  • linds

    smmtheory,
    Exactly. But what does that have to do with this dicussion of the diamond trade? Don’t try to put me in the pro-choice, anti-war liberal box. I don’t fit in there.
    Ex-preacher,
    You clearly don’t understand the purpose of prayer. It’s not done in place of action, it’s done in conjunction with action, asking God’s guidance for that action, and asking God to aid in that action.
    Prayer and activism aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • ex-preacher

    smmtheory,
    So you think that prayer doesn’t actually change God’s mind?
    linds,
    I think we can all agree that action works. The question here is what does prayer do. Does it persuade God to do something (whether with or apart from the person’s action) that he would not have done anyway? If so, this means that God either:
    A) didn’t know what the right thing to do was, or
    B) knew what the right thing to do was, but was not going to do it.

  • smmtheory

    So you think that prayer doesn’t actually change God’s mind?

    You’re reading too much into my question. Your first question is a false dichotomy anyway. God knows what is right, it doesn’t take any convincing for God to do what is right. Praying for intercession means you are asking God to do something you WANT whether what you want him to do is right or not. Is it possible to convince God to do what you want him to do? Yes. How much prayer it takes is entirely subjective to the amount of faith you hold and the level of faith God might require you to demonstrate in order to have your desire granted.

  • smmtheory

    Don’t try to put me in the pro-choice, anti-war liberal box.

    I think you kind of did the second one yourself in the other post talking about the specter of American aggression covering for Russian aggression. Make up your mind, okay?

  • JillD

    In similar manner, mercury is commonly used to purify gold and many of those doing the work handle the mercury directly. Their hands are immersed in it.
    Here’s one article that speaks to this:
    http://www.examiner.ie/world/revealed-trail-of-dirty-gold-91030.html
    Eventually, all of these precious possessions are going to burn. (2Peter 3:10) None of them are worth the harm done to other persons.

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  • linds

    ex-preacher,
    smmtheory is right. You set up a false dichotomy. God does what He wishes, which is in harmony with His character. Prayer is about our relationship with Him. Perhaps we don’t see prayer’s efficacy unless we do it. :)
    smmtheory,
    Though I agree with you on the role of prayer, I’m still quite dismayed that you’re incapable of reading what I write. Saying that American unilateralism can fuel Russian aggression by allowing the Russian leadership to use it as an excuse or propaganda tool isn’t the same thing as saying all war is all bad all the time and standing on the corner with a sign ordering the US to withdraw overseas troops. Trust me, if we both keep posting here, we’ll get into plenty of political arguments. Save your energy for when we actually have them instead of inventing them.
    And please try to learn to read what people with whom you’re discussing write. It makes conversations much more productive.

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  • smmtheory

    Saying that American unilateralism can fuel Russian aggression by allowing the Russian leadership to use it as an excuse or propaganda tool

    Except that I only ever hear the phrase – American unilateralism – being used as left-wing codespeak in reference to the effort to depose Saddam Hussein and restore order to Iraq. This despite the fact that it was anything BUT unilateralism! So explain to me exactly what event or set of events comprises this American unilateralism that you keep referring to.

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