I stopped by the Ten Thousand Villages (www.tenthousandvillages.com) the other day. In case you are not familiar with it, Ten Thousand Villages is a shop which sells handmade crafts made by artisans in poor and developing countries. To step into a Ten Thousand Villages ship is to step into a lovely, magical world. Everything in there reflects the love of their creator. To purchase something in a Ten Thousand Villages shop is to know that you have joined in a partnership with the artisan. The two of you are working hand in hand to make the world a fair, respectful place.
If you question why fair trade? Why not purchase goods for the lowest possible price? Again, it’s the old saw, “pay me now, pay me later.” According to the information available at the store, 3/4 of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries and survive (or try to) on less than $1.25 per day. Most of these people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. When they receive a fair and equitable price for their goods the poverty cycle is broken. We cause this to happen when we purchase goods that are designated fair trade. I think of it as a ripple effect. When we choose to purchase fair trade goods, whether jewelry, home accessories, chocolate or coffee we start a chain reaction that has far-reaching rewards. The workers and artisans are able to live with dignity, the poverty cycle is broken, and families and their respective families are nourished. Have you ever heard the phrase, “a higher tide raises all boats”? I take this to mean when we work together to help each other we all benefit. I encourage you to explore this concept deeper at www.FairtradeAmerica.org.
“The social justice tradition (the compassionate life) is not a set of pious exercises for the devout, but a trumpet call to a freely gathered people who seek the total transformation of persons, institutions, and societies. We are to combine suffering love with courageous action. . . . We are to become the voice of the voiceless, pleading their causes in the halls of power and privilege.”
Robert Foster, Devotional Classics