Open Letter to Tim Cook, CEO Apple

Dear Mr Cook, 

I write to you because you are CEO of Apple and also a fellow human being.

First, thank you for my iPhone. It has improved my life and my work. It’s hard to imagine life without it (scary!). I have always resonated with the spirit of your founder’s desire to “put a dent in the universe.”

I write today because I feel hopeless about the ways in which precious metals – coltan/cobalt – are mined in the Congo to develop Apple products for me and others. Hopeless because when I multiply by the many millions of Apple product users, the damage is huge.  I know  from Eve Ensler’s (marvelous) work that the highest rate of violent rape in the world is in Congo. I also understand that this rape is linked to the conflict over the mines where precious metals are mined. In other words the mines where Apple gets its coltan. For me. For us.

It’s hard to know this and to hold my phone, which I need. And in holding it, hold the endless compounding of post colonial trauma since the metaphorical Belgian “rape of resources” –  which has meant countless literal rapes of women and children and men. Still continuing. This preying upon and destroying weaker beings in the heart of Africa.

I can hardly stand it.  Yet here is my phone in my hand.  I’m complicit. I know. I feel hopeless about the violence in the world. What’s worse, I can’t (perhaps won’t) stop using my Apple products to extricate myself here.

Some of us are better placed to take actions to transform this situation. So I must ask if your team can please leverage your magisterial position for me, for us.

I imagine a supply chain that affords a decent life to all the stakeholders along that apple product supply chain. (Or minimally works to minimize violent rape. Or at least doesn’t make it worse as the supply chain grows…).

Presumably lawsuits on all this will one day force change. But what of our conscience now? Can you and your team please please work harder to solve this catastrophe. For all of us.

Thank you, Mr. Cook.