First, Do No Harm, Interconnection and Amazon

A Shadow of Amazon Consumption and Investment

We are here together on one finite planet in a vast and amazing Universe. I struggle on both an intellectual and very deep heart level with our collective interdependence and interconnection.

Beyond the polarized corporate and “social” media worlds we live in, no matter what our identity or political party, how do our everyday actions and behaviors affect human beings and all life that surrounds us? Like it or not, everything is connected.

The concept in Latin: “Primum non nocere” or “First, do no harm” is a fundamental medical precept of Hippocrates, author of the Hippocratic Oath. What if this principal was fully applied to all medicine, educational institutions, stock markets, politics, corporations, business transactions, social media platforms, communities, friendships and our families?

We are often so busy and stressed that many of us continue to not always understand how what we buy, where we buy from, where the money that runs our stock markets goes; how our everyday investment and consumption choices have an impact. Poverty doesn’t always allow for choices in the current economic system set up in this country, this is not about making anyone “bad”. Those who are surviving have limited choices in where or how they buy.

Then, there’s privilege. There are thriving self-help, spiritual communities, healthcare professionals, writers or other groups that choose to focus on service, healing, love, peace, and make great contributions. Yet they do not always make the connection between where they are investing, where they are selling or buying from and how these companies have an impact.

This can be overwhelming to think about. I don’t want to get into the right and the wrong here, what I’d like to touch on is our interconnection. It’s complex and yet putting our heads in the sand for personal convenience does not help. In order to create something new, lessons from our past can be learned and the old can be deconstructed.

Paradoxes can be found everywhere. There are those who claim to care about the environment or profess they are upstanding professionals, some even proudly announce they are going vegan as a main culprit for climate change is the meat industry and thus they are not going to eat any more animal products. Yet their workplace IRA is invested in extraction industries, Big Ag, jails, and immigration detention centers. They may have their very own stock portfolios where they not only invest in, but love to buy from a company like Amazon.

What I have read about Amazon, even though it’s technically a great platform, it’s impossible to ignore many reports about their labor practices in warehouses before and during the pandemic, workers being monitored and dying in the supply warehouses, the reports of Amazon working directly under contract with the Federal Government with ICE and the immigration detention centers, using their technologies for recognition and tracking immigrants.

And besides being oh so convenient, how can we ignore that Amazon’s market share has also broken up small businesses across the United States? This also is related to our current federal regulations and the landscape of on-line business, but how is it that Jeff Bezos is one of the richest men on the planet and yet Amazon pays nothing in federal taxes in the United States? How is it that during the first months of the pandemic, Bezos increased his fortune by over $24 billion and many of his workers have been fired for speaking out for basic safety and rights?

Why do many turn a blind eye as well to the justice and jailing for profit system? The United States is a country with the highest amount of people in jail per capita more than any where else on the planet — which these same jails also profit in the stock market and are embedded in many IRAs and stock portfolios. This is also a country where the children, the future, according to the U.S. Census Bureau of 2015, 1 child in 5 lives in poverty. That’s over 15.5 million impoverished children and it’s now growing.

What was once considered a country with infrastructure and a future for some after WWII, now has an epidemic of unemployment, underfunded schools and poverty. With the great wealth that’s being generated by a select few and many of our tax dollars spent on war contractors and the war machine, there could be much more invested to support education, healthcare for all and everyone’s future.

While some are making billions, the United States is a country where in most major cities, there are thousands of people sleeping on the streets and millions of people don’t have access to proper healthcare. People can only pull up their bootstraps so far and work some many low paying gig jobs… that possibly in the not too far future will be by design, automated.

In our serious situation, how is it that large companies like Amazon do not pay federal taxes and are allowed to not only land large government subsidies but also reinvest those billions in themselves? Have we also honestly looked at where do the things go after we buy them, what resources are used to make them and how long of a trip around the world do they take to get here so we can buy them so cheap?

I don’t know how normalizing suppressing workers, paying many of them low wages that have not raised since the 90's, working with tracking and jailing immigrants is morally justifiable. How is it that these Amazon practices seem to be not a problem and people keep ordering and selling more than ever? How can one justify the way many stock markets, tax incentives and most pension funds work, especially after the 2008 crash and with what we are facing in the current pandemic?

A great majority of the people don’t see where their pension money is invested — for example the biggest returns can be from extraction industries, jails, Big Ag, chemical companies, and war machines — and how those investments can directly impact the environment and other human beings. How can psychopathic systems aid in transforming the lives of the majority of the population into a better place?

There is enough for everyone and we can create new systems and ways of living that do not harm. Life on this planet depends on it. It’s an enormous task but as systems begin to crumble, why no look at, imagine new ways of operating?

I’m not saying that people have to stop buying or they can’t use Amazon. What I am asking is to start seeing the interconnections and if you can, write to Amazon, or even better, find better platforms to sell your goods, buy locally or direct from distributors.

Change is always possible. Yet if we continue to normalize the above issues or wait for corporate regulations in a bought-out-by-lobbies Washington D.C., the insanity continues each time you search, click, buy or sell out of convenience.

The times that we are in right now may feel scary and uncertain, but one thing that is true through all of it is love. And love comes from a place of unity. Can our actions be from a place of unity without blaming or shaming another, rather deeply understanding our connection to all life?

First, do no harm. As everything is interconnected, each one of us has a responsibility, which is the ability to respond. Let’s live from unity.

A human, being Podcast: First, Do No Harm