Like many Canadians who travel to the USA, I visited an outlet mall on the way to New York City last month. We stopped at The Crossings Premium Outlets in Pennsylvania. As you can see from the picture, it was clean and well maintained. A pleasant place to shop. I bought new clothes that looked great and matched my budget. WooHoo! It was a good buy, and I was pleased with my purchase.
A few days before our trip, however, a terrible disaster occurred on the other side of the world. A building in Bangladesh collapsed killing more than 1,100 people. The building was full of factory workers who made clothes destined for shoppers in the US, Canada and Europe. You can find a report from the New York Times here if you haven’t heard about it yet, or for those of you with more courage you can see images of the destruction here [Caution: Images may be disturbing to some people]. Google Keyword Search = “Bangladesh building collapse”
At this point you may have already guessed how the Outlet Mall in Pennsylvania is connected to the tragedy in Bangladesh, but let me tell you how I made the connection for myself. When I returned home from the trip, I just happened to look at one of the labels on a shirt I bought at the mall. I noticed the shirt was made in Bangladesh. Hmmmm.
When used properly, the mind is a beautiful thing. It can make connections which may or may not be obvious at first. My mind connected the pleasant shopping experience I had in Pennsylvania with the tragedy on the other side of the world. It might be hard to acknowledge and accept feelings of connectedness with people I’ve never met, but the shirt label provides clear evidence that I am participating in a global economy. That means I will likely buy shirts, and other products, that are made in far away places where worker and product safety standards are not the same as what I expect at home. The reality of the new global economy is that we’re all a lot more connected now than we were in the past.
Shopping can be, and should be, fun and entertaining, but let’s hope we don’t lose our sense of connection and compassion for the people who make and deliver great shopping experiences to us.
Please let me know how you feel about this. Am I too naive or do you agree?