With a name like Sharpening the Cutting Edge you would expect John Smith to give it to us straight, and he doesn't disappoint. Which is refreshing. I even see it in myself - a tendency to get too concerned about being offensive or saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood that I dull the blade of what I really think. But sometimes things become so safe and palatable that they've lost any meaning.
And so do our lives become insular and sheltered from what is really going on.
The first thing that really got me as I read this book was the sentence: "But how many people deny themselves chocolate on the basis that a large proportion of the world's supply is produced from cocoa farmed by slaves?"
I felt sick.
I had never bothered to think about it. I can't excuse myself for lack of knowledge - I'd heard about it and the information is not hidden had I looked for it. But I had chosen not to care.
Do I need chocolate that much that I don't care if people are in slavery to produce it?
We joke about being addicted to chocolate, needing our chocolate fix... but when we really think about it, how pathetic are we, relying on a sugary luxury to the detriment of others. It's chocolate. Not water. Not medicine. Two things which many people are denied and yet we value a confectionary product and our own taste buds over those things.
We look back on the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and applaud those who stood in opposition to the status quo and stood up for human rights. We probably imagine ourselves being those people - because we are at a safe distance from those events. No one can actually call us to action on that issue. And yet most of us probably sit on our couches eating chocolate quietly ignoring the fact that slavery is still happening.
This was my first introduction to John's book. It must have shocked me so much I didn't dare pick it up for a while after that, because it was months ago that I read that sentence.
Take the quote on the back seriously when it says, "This book is dangerous in the righteous sense of the word. One simply cannot read it without feeling the ground on which one stands being shaken..." (Alan Hirsch)
So with that in mind, I read on with trepidation but excitement. I love a good ground shaking....