Act 11: Fairtrade

Generosity doesn’t always feel dramatic and hopeful, particularly when we can’t see the effects, and we aren’t at the centre. But the generosity that shifts the course of history isn’t just spontaneous – it’s strategic, and structural. It’s the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight. Jump in, buy fair, and help bend the arc of history towards justice.

Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Buy Fairtrade. Scan your shopping list and see what you can switch out (look here to see what products can most commonly be swapped). Make it a personal value, and your life will always be inspiring change in others.

  Go to Traidcraft’s online shop and buy gifts for people you don’t ordinarily buy gifts for. Spend five minutes and as much money as you’ve spent on drinks in the last week.

Join a campaign that aims to change the world and make economic justice a reality. Traidcraft and Christian Aid have some wonderful campaigns.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
(James 4:17 NIV)

Your thought for today:

I once saw a man kick his girlfriend in the back, knocking her sprawling onto a pavement. They were leaving a nightclub, I was arriving. He was shouting at her. And as she fell to the ground, he made for her in a purposeful, decided way that dropped my stomach through my body with horror. He was huge, and violent, and I was not. I intervened anyway, running up, shouting, ‘I rebuke you in the name of Jesus!’ I was young and far more comfortable with pomposity then. Praise God, he stopped. And, chin up, staring bravely at the middle of his chest, I said, ‘You need to repent.’

When he had calmed down, I told the guy, who thought himself a Christian, what he was doing was unacceptable. He agreed. I dropped his girlfriend home. I don’t know if I made a long-term difference. My motives had more to do with wanting to feel heroic than helping, I suspect, and I never thought to call the cops or get him psychological help. But I think it was the right thing to do. And it makes me think about James, and about Fairtrade Fortnight.

It’s easy for those of us who have embraced the Fairtrade ethos to think we’re heroes. We have, after all, done something. We’re not like the people James despises, who wish the poor well without helping. We’ve taken steps. But we know the economic system that our world idolises means most people won’t. That paint and petrol, smartphones and steel aren’t commodities that can be tamed with a logo and consumer choice. That even chocolate and coffee are likely to be made by slaves if companies can get away with it. We need to stand up to them with more than our purchases. And doing so is scary.

It means picking political sides. It means giving our voices to campaigns that are not always popular. It means spending our money on Fairtrade products, yes. But it also means supporting the charities and movements that are challenging the economic systems, the political vested interests and the rulers and principalities of this dark world that oppress, exploit and enslave.

It’s not good enough to watch a person being kicked to the ground and say, ‘Thank goodness I don’t do that.’ We have to intervene. We have to try to stop it happening to anyone. As James might say: if our concern for justice is kept safely in our pockets, what good is it?*

Written by Jonty Langley
Jonty Langley is a writer and columnist, and works for a Christian mission agency.


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*If you have been affected by any of the issues in today’s blog post then please contact The National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247