Last week, I randomly ran into someone I haven’t seen in a while (and am not that close with). We were talking for a bit, and mid-conversation, she asked if she could see my engagement ring. “Beautiful!” she exclaimed. “But is the diamond conflict-free?”
Now I truly have no idea, but I’d probably say that the diamonds in my engagement ring are not from a conflict-free zone. J and I had gotten engaged a while ago, before this issue had become such a hot topic. I didn’t explain that to her, or course. I simply said that I didn’t think so.
She dropped my hand as if it was aflame. “Well, I saw Blood Diamond.” she said, “And when I get engaged, I will NEVER accept a diamond that isn’t conflict-free.” I stared at her for a bit, and made an excuse about needing to get back to work. (Naturally, the whole way back, my mind was reeling with potential replies I could’ve thrown back at her. I’ll spare you, because they were uniformly awful and mean.)
I guarantee you that if I asked this girl what she has personally done to get involved in this cause, or even the name some of the “hot zones” involved, she wouldn’t be able to tell me shit. And that’s what gets me--I have no problem with people seeing a major issue, and wanting to do the ethical thing, the humane thing. My beef is with people who, if they’re being honest about their actions, are really just doing the popular thing; something that makes them feel a little more superior, and a little less insecure.
If this “conflict diamond” issue has risen to the fore when J and I were getting engaged, would this have impacted the purchase? Maybe. But am I going to throw out my engagement ring because some girl I kind of know saw a movie, and wants to be a little smug about her newfound knowledge? Never. I have a hard time believing that this girl genuinely wanted to impart any message to me, other than, “I’m better than you, because I care more. You heartless bastard, you.”
It’s not just about the “blood diamonds,” by the way; every time a celebrity champions a cause, an army of people take up the battle cry. And I don’t frown upon stars using their fame for a good reason. It just seems (to me, anyway) that the people who sneer at your diamond, give you a speech about getting a puppy from a breeder, or whine about you drinking coffee from Starbucks are inevitably clueless. Ask them anything that requires research (you know, beyond seeing a movie, reading a PETA poster, or mindlessly accepting everything their hippie boyfriend tells them about “free trade” coffee), and they’ll be blustering about nothing in no time flat. This is an imperfect world, and unfortunately, there’s always going to be something that needs fixing. The diamonds we wear, the places we buy our pets, the food we eat; all of it can be done “better.” But “better” is inexorably subjective; it’s determined by someone else’s standards.
Wanting to educate people about a humanitarian cause is fantastic, and I’m all for it. But as with most things, there’s a way to do it. What it comes down to, I guess, is actually believing in what we purport to stand for, and not just serving as a mouthpiece; a puppet for someone else’s agenda. And perhaps most importantly, not being a dick to other people about what we feel is important.
(Note: Sorry for the uncharacteristically serious post. I did not bump my head or anything; this really just pissed me the hell off. I’m sure I’ll be back to waxing poetic about makeup or weird hobos tomorrow.)