In the Ivory Coast, a 10 year-old slave boy carries a fifty pound bag of cocoa beans. He accidentally trips over a rock while walking the unpaved route. Immediately the boy begins to cower in fear. He knows what is to come; he has known it for many years now. His life has consisted of these experiences time and time again. There is nothing more to look to. There is no hope of freedom. No hope of a future. No hope of escape. And through the eyes of this boy we see the conditioning of pain. Of unexplainable suffering.We see a dimness that we ourselves could never understand. This boy has sacrificed the light in his eyes just for us to experience a moment of sparkle in ours. When we look at his face, we can witness the deep void in his heart. It reflects the aura of innocence that has been stripped from the seams. We would never want to think of ourselves as beings capable of instilling fear in the hearts of children, much like our own. We would never want to come across the guilt ofknowing that we allowed this kind of dehumanization to occur for a product that is known to instill happiness in hearts but is doing quite the contrary. This product, a simple delightful piece of chocolate that paints smiles onthe faces of our own children, is the culprit that wipes the innocence and laughter off the face of another. Is it not in our best interest to stop advocating a practice so outdated? A practice we outlawed with our own hands? It is our duty to protect those that needed most. Our concept of innocence is continually evaporating. Guiltless children have suffered at the expense of our indulgences in a product tainted with sweat and blood. Would we want our own children to be taken from our homes just to make others we have never met, happy?When we have the resources to make sure that humans are not used as tools, why not put those resources to use? We as the customers have the power within us to drive these corporations to realize their evil deeds. We bring in their profit. And once their profit is cut off, by means of boycotting their products, the corporations will have no choice but to reevaluate their cocoa-gathering techniques. Although this issue is of a complex nature, if one attempts to make a change rather than stay stagnant, it can make an incredible difference. Every time we engage in any action, even as simple as buying an innocent bar of chocolate, we must think before we purchase. We must think of what our money is actually buying. Is it buying the lifetime slavery of other human beings who too have desires, hopes and dreams? Is it promoting actions we have already labeled unethical through our laws? Are we going to turn a blind eye to this clear violation of human rights as long as we get our lovely chocolate, or are we going to stand up to these immoral practices that we could put a stop to through the power we have as consumers? As we return to our story we find the 10 year old boy on the ground who watches as the slaveholder walks up to him. The fear in his eyes peak and the cold, detached yet angry stare given by the slaveholder only accentuates that fear. The contrast is between the two is vividly clear. And as it has, time and time again, the whip comes down hard. The whip we unknowingly advocate. The whip we unknowingly yield. The whip we unknowingly hold the power to stop.

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