Divakaruni’s Essay “Live Free and Starve” addresses the importance and gravity of understanding all of the consequences of making a decision, especially a decision that involves the welfare of a large group of people. This is especially exemplified in the bill that was introduced in Congress in an effort to ban goods made by means of child labor. This not only affects the consumers of America in the products they buy, but it has a huge impact on the child laborers, creating implications that reach far beyond the injustices of child labor. Although Congress is attempting to show concern for and awareness of the unreasonable child labor in other countries, they are also showing their ignorance or lack of concern for the responsibility that the children have to support their families through the jobs that they are offered. Divakaruni offers an insightful question when she wonders, “if the children were asked whether they would rather work under such hard conditions or enjoy a leisure that comes without the benefit of food or clothing or shelter…what their response would be.” In essence congress is attempting to decipher which is more important for the children and their families. Do they “prefer bread to freedom?” The Congress is then faced with finding a way to choose the lesser of two evils, giving freedom to children, but losing the sustainability of a family, or allowing children to continue to work in such hard conditions in order to support themselves and their family. A major flaw in the policy of the bill that was created is that those that created the policy are looking at the “rest of the world as though it were happening in this country” therefore, their solutions fit best in the context of our society, rather than the extremely impoverished, suffering, and struggling families in Third World countries. In my opinion Congress is taking an important stand against child labor, especially since our society has a major impact on the mass production of goods in Third World countries by means of unjust conditions, but I do not believe that they have developed a solution that will effectively aid the children that they are trying to protect. In fact, by taking away their work, the children will continue to suffer, just in a different form and setting. Through unemployment they will lose the benefits of that enable them to contribute to the necessary elements of survival for their family such as food and shelter. I believe that Congress can make a positive difference in child labor, but they must go beyond simply banning products made by means of child labor, because this will simply cause another problem for the people. I agree with Divakarumi that such a bill is useless “unless it goes hand in hand with programs that will offer a new life to these newly released children. If you were a child worker in a Third World country would you choose bread or freedom?
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