Julie Clawson's Book Review and Analysis


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Our daily choices reflect the ethics whether we know or not. The actions affect more people than we think. Julie Clawson provides a great introduction to the system of social justice in the world and shows how even the insignificant actions can have an impact globally. For example, buying and using a chocolate bar that was produced through forced child labor in Africa, a system of cruelty and injustice is sustained. Choosing Fair Trade products, safer working conditions and fair wages are supported. Also, purchasing produce that is grown locally reduces the carbon footprint that is involved with the transportation, the farmers benefit. According to Clawson, the Christians have the responsibility to uphold morality even in the smallest actions.

In each chapter of the book, the author points out different areas that are involved with social justice, like chocolate, coffee, food, cars, waste, clothes, and debt. After giving an overview of a problem, she offers ideas on how to approach the problem justly. She gives practical ideas that people make a difference. Clawson included a list of resources at the end of all the chapters for those who want to pursue the subject more.

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The social injustice problem seems to be huge; the writer encourages the readers to make small changes over time rather than being paralyzed by the overhauling idea of our lives at once. She wrote, ‘All of us can discern where God is leading us to alter our lives to change one thing at a time, taking the time to understand and get behind our actions. Sometimes insisting that the revolution be slow means that it will be doable’. Clawson shows that people can live justly. The book can be used as a resource for the people who want advice on how to make responsible decisions, small changes at a time.

Clawson’s awareness of justice issues started with a closer look at the coffee: it is a stylish consumer product and a huge earner for companies that dominate growers in poor nations. Farmers have lost their tracts of land to the corporations that offer them jobs but deny them fair wages and a safe working environment, in Southeast Asia and Latin America. She quotes that God will judge those who defraud the workers of their earnings.

Chocolate shows the same story. Half of the population in Cote d’Ivoire earns from cocoa, in the case of a nation. The workers are trafficked from Mali to meet the demand for export; most of the workers are children. The workers are abused and overworked once they under the control of the gang masters. The writer observes that there is more slavery today than the days of the Atlantic slave trade. People should buy the fairly traded products to promote Fair Trade.

The chapters focus on the consumer extravagance aspect which connects to injustice. Clawson goes beyond food and drinks. More fuel is wasted in the USA to provide easy travel for people, temperatures that are controlled, and entertainment. People can make small changes like using bikes occasionally and switching the electronics off often. A person may not be able to solve the problem of global warming, but people should accept the role they play, like destroying farms and the population of fish through oil extraction in Niger Delta and other areas in the world. Clawson joins the dots, the lost livelihoods cause unrest, and the relief agencies cannot work efficiently.

Clawson insists that what occurs beyond a person’s line of vision is important. If the needs of others are denied through greed, the image of God is denied to those individuals. Cheap products can be bought or recognize the true cost that is incurred by others and the future generations. Individuals should have an ethical label on what the purchase.

The waste chapter involves a shopper who dashes around a store that has a discount, stocking up toilet paper, diapers, plastic plates, storage bags, and bottled water. The shopper is satisfied that he/she is saving money and is efficient until the shopper pays and realizes that she has spent so much on what will be trash. The author then raises the spectre of plastic soup that floats in the currents of the Pacific.

The last chapter is about loans from the International Monetary Fund and western banks. The loans have entrapped and destroyed the nations, other than lifting the poor economies. The topic has a depth understanding that refutes the allegation that it is a just lifestyle. Hope for the movement for the cancellation of debts is expressed; it was inspired by the world churches.

To live justly means the understanding the impact of our decisions. It includes the awareness of the wants of others and also deciding to love other people in a way that their needs are cared for. The book guides the readers to act justly and makes it clear that the choices that are made daily about what to eat, wear, and where to drive, all reveal the spiritual path of an individual. The decisions have a great impact on the lives of others. Little changes can make a great difference in the lives of the overlooked, the poor, and the underpaid. The small steps please God. Clawson shows how we get clothing and food and points the surprising costs of waste. Our lifestyles can make a difference globally. Sustainable lifestyles may lead to a more just world.

The book evokes emotions of frustrations, anger, cynicism, and hopelessness. People treat others in horrific ways in the name of progress, prejudice, advancement, entitlement, democracy and other ethic that they may conjure up, which justifies the inhumanity. These issues should be engaged with wisdom because their economics is complicated. Some of the questions that Clawson raises are: does the purchasing of the chocolates make a difference? What kind of difference can this make in the lives of others? Does the change need to come from the bottom or the top?

The answers to these questions may be yes or fair to some degree. With the emergence of campaigns, initiatives, media, and other programs, voices are raised, changes are made, lives are impacted, and justice is done. The complicity in the economic system is creating other injustices even as the known injustices are dealt with. With all these questions, there lies a problem with most people. We still drive t stores, purchase clothing, food, and chocolate, and then throw everything in the trash. The analysis paralysis of the issues keeps many from living justly. The book is brilliant, hopeful, empowering, and necessary. So, recycle the products that can be recycled.

The problem is that which is simple is the most challenging and difficult. We should live as an example to others.

Living justly may be a hard task in this modern world. How can one know that the coffee was grown fairly? Or whether the clothing was made by children? Most chapters have arguments that are fallacious and with distortions of the reality. For example, the second chapter talks about chocolate and human trafficking in some industries that produce chocolate. She only lists a small region globally to argue the case of slavery.

The fifth chapter is about clothing for consumers in the US. Her assessment of the basic workplace conditions like the well-lit environment and short breaks are practical ideas. But she goes on to in favor of enforcing minimum wages and promoting human rights for everyone in the world to work and get safe shelter, health care, and other benefits. There is evidence provided of it being a basic human right; she only assumes that it is a basic human right.

The sixth chapter is about waste, specifically on the disposable tampons, diapers, and electronics in dumps. She claims that the environment is hurt and millions of people are poisoned, and the Americans are responsible in helping in the destruction of the environment by not switching to cloth feminine pads, cloth diapers, and the increasing restrictions by the government upon the companies that manufacture electronics when the items are not disposed of properly. The chapter doesn’t have much helpful and insightful information on how to solve the issue.

Overall, the book shows that it is possible to live justly. It can be a good resource for those who want practical advice on how to make responsible decisions.

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