'Through gratitude and generosity we step outside of our little world where we are the center of attention. In doing so, we step out of the firing line for all the messaging, advertising, fear-inducing hype-speak aimed at us. As the din from all that noise diminishes we start to hear all sorts of other things we have been missing all this time – like our names, our purpose, and the incomparable joys of living in that purpose.' -Nathan George, Founder, Trade As OneCrunchier than Thou
I realize that I have been too quick to take Fair Trade for granted. Living in Santa Cruz, I see it used so often as one more PC label, one more way to judge whether or not you are of the elect-"Is it organic? Free range? Biodynamic? Sustainably grown? Fair Trade?" One more phylactery on the PC Pharisee's proud forehead. ("I thank you, Lord, that I am not like that tax collector. He is so not green-and did you see that French roast he just bought? Totally not Fair Trade!")
It wasn't until I started reading a book at a friend's house, Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It, by David Batstone, that I began to sit up and take notice. The issue of human trafficking has never left us, and the fact that there are an estimated 27 million people who, right now, are slaves, is hair-raising, and left me wanting desperately to do something. This friend of mine told me she gets together with a few women every month or so to pray for these 27 million, each known and loved by God. When she told me this, it was like a light went on inside my heart and I realized that this was something that I could do, something that was within my grasp.
Viewing the Trade As One boutique last Sunday through the lens of the trafficking issue filled me with gratitude and generosity. Looking at the jewelry, thinking-"these bracelets were made by a woman that was rescued from the sex trade in Cambodia! Awesome!" I just kept walking around with the same silly grin on my face, self-consciously rubbing my arms-I think I had chicken skin all day. I wanted to buy it all. I didn't! But the few things we did buy we will treasure. It's not the first time I've been around this sort of thing, and the idea of supporting micro-businesses from the Third World is not new. But somehow it is hitting me differently.
"Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.-Micah 6:8"
I'm still ruminating on all this, and trying to assimilate it into my life. Most days, I'm either sitting in a nursing stupor, or dashing about, generally tired & absent-minded; forgetting important things like meetings, people's names and the odd noun, but inwardly my ear is cocked to the heavens, listening.
Subvert The Dominant Paradigm:
Have An Opinion, And Don't Put It On Your Car!
If you want a bit of a laugh, read the Santa Cruz Sentinel's two articles on the Trade As One boutique at our church, Vintage Faith, last Sunday. The articles themselves aren't especially chuckle-worthy, but the myriad of comments afterwords certainly are. We Santa Cruzans just can't help ourselves when it comes to opinions! It's something in the water. But I won't say what, or I'll get alot of mistaken angry comments about the controversial flouride in the water supply debate.
But please, have a poke around the Trade As One website, and hear a few of the stories from the producers of their products. They are marvelous-like the story of Divine Chocolate from Ghana, the world's first chocolate company owned by farmers, and the way they honor and support the equality of women in their company. Good stuff. I can't wait to open our Advent Calendar with their chocolate! If you missed the boutique, they will be at the Rio Theatre (here in Santa Cruz) December 12 & 13.