Bringing home conflict diamonds

0 comments, Monday, January 21st, 2013, by Nicole Shepard, in News
When working in a culture where murder is justifiable, the idea of global business ethics falls away. This concern launched the Center for the Study of Ethics to invite UVU alumnus and author of Crimes of Humanity, Lynn Fausett, to speak to students about the current reality of the African diamond industry.

 

Global business is the new frontier. Dr. Elaine E. Englehardt, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Special Assistant to the President, with Daniel McNeil, Digital Media senior, have worked to bring the dark realities of working in a global economy to students’ attention.

 

“I want to help students understand that global business goals are quite different than goals you’d find in the U.S,” Dr. Englehardt said. “Others will do what they think they have to do: lie, cheat, kill even.”

 

McNeil, whose senior project is a documentary focused on African conflict diamonds, is working with the goal of awareness and hopefully changed attitudes.

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“As consumers, why do we think we need diamonds?” McNeil said. “As a tool they are necessary, but as a commodity? Why are we willing to compromise our integrity for something that sparkles?”

 

Fausett has years of experience in the diamond industry of Liberia.

 

“If you combine Lord of War with Blood Diamonds, that was my story,” Fausett said.

 

After approximately seven months of being unable to leave the country because of flooding and civil war, Fausett’s first trip to Liberia was more perilous than profitable.

 

His second trip turned out to be far more dangerous than the first. Diamonds were found in a gold mine Fausett worked with, and the Liberian government took interest.

 

“I spent the next year of my life going through deep jungles, digging for diamonds and running from soldiers,” Fausett said. “I was chased, I was beat up a number of times, and thrown in prison twice.”

 

Once home, Fausett needed to cope with what he had seen.

 

“When I got home a lot of the other guys that went to Africa had PTSD and nightmares, so they went to doctors and were medicated,” Fausett said. “I wrote as therapy. In 16 weeks, I wrote 270,000 words. I wrote out my demons. Then I put those words on a shelf.”

 

Those 270,000 words would become his memoir.

 

“We were looking for a reoccurring theme,” Fausett said. “That theme was greed. We worship our rich.”

 

On Jan. 31, Dr. Englehardt, McNeil and Fausett will bring the issue of greed outweighing ethics to UVU students in a panel discussion in the library auditorium.

 

“Utah Valley is such a large consumer of diamonds; we need to take responsibility for our involvement in the conflict,” McNeil said. “It may be happening over in Africa, and we may not have to see it, but because we buy and sell diamonds we are directly connected to the problem.”

 

Fausett does not know what will change the cycle of greed, but he wants it talked about.

 

“I’d like to see what comes after greed,” Fausett said. “I would like to see that over-the-rainbow world, but I don’t think I ever will.”

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