I sometimes wonder how we got ourselves into this global silliness where so many of the things we wear and use are made in China and shipped in unbelievably huge container ships to destinations in almost every corner of the world. Famous brands are only rarely made in their countries of origin anymore.

As a consequence we’ve, in essence, exported many of our meaningful manufacturing jobs to China, India, and Southeast Asia. Unemployment grows in the West, the atmosphere, seas and earth get sullied with toxic chemicals and we all enjoy our electronic trinkets made largely from the by-products of oil. How sustainable is this?

I’ve just finished reading a book by Joe Bennett called, Where Underpants Come From. How’s that for a catchy and provocative title? Joe is a very funny writer in a Bill Bryson-ish way. He’s a popular columnist here in New Zealand (although his roots are in the UK and he’s lived five years in Canada). The subtitle to the book is From Checkout to Cotton Field – Travels Through the New China.

 As Joe Bennett points out the two Chinese characters for China represent the words Middle Kingdom. The Chinese have always been ethnocentric and, really, for most of the last two thousand-plus years they’ve led the world in innovativeness. The Chinese are not far from dominating world trade and commerce now. I encourage you to read Where Underpants Come From for a recent peak at the factories and life in the New China of today. You’ll laugh and you’ll wonder – as I do. Where is all this leading?

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.