What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesus and the Good Samaritan have in common?
Arnie is back! His most famous line “I’ll be back” is being fulfilled as he returns from his role in public service back to Hollywood. He has become, with a handful of others, this generation’s ultimate action man. It would seem that we all need a “get it done” action kinda guy to save us or inspire us in our lives.
His comeback film has been released in the lead up to Easter as we remember a different kinda action guy in Jesus. Like many of Hollywood’s storylines his plans seemed audacious, his enemies way too many, the fickleness and misunderstandings of allies too frequent but still he continued. It was a plan focused on getting we mere mortals what we could not otherwise achieve – forgiveness. As opposed to many of the Hollywood scripts his action plan was not about revenge but selfless, effective love.
It therefore doesn’t surprise us to remember that the story Jesus used to demonstrate what love looks like on the ground was full of selfless, dynamic action. The good Samaritan got involved with a complete stranger, ignoring his own:-
to-do list for that day
his budget for that month
hatred for the race of this man (assuming the victim was Jewish)
further pressing needs when he went back and visited and paid the inn keeper.
Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, this story and his example in life stand as the ultimate example of what love in action means.
As we think about that challenge may I now take you across the seas to a group of people that are needing some of this same love. They are the cocoa farmers of West Africa. You may be well aware that this group of humans have lived in poverty for many years in order to deliver our daily dose of chocolate. The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement (others put West African child labourers as high as 2,000,000 “in cocoa related industries”) A World Bank report of 2011 notes that “persistent poverty among farming communities, health and environmental problems” are among the continuing problems of cocoa farmers despite millions of kilos of cocoa being produced every year. It would seem that the oft quoted cry of Africa “we need more trade” should be changed to “we need more fair trade.” Our involvement with Africa in trade is not and has not been one of equity or love. We have not “crossed the road” to enter into their world and bring relief for their great needs.
In the late 80s a number of charities, including many Christian charities, started drawing up plans to make trade fair through a certification system. Before this action, knowing the provenance or heritage of any given product was too hard. As this certification developed into the 90s it gave us reliable assurances of fair practises and thus the opportunity to love dynamically through intelligent purchasing. It also gave us the chance to make sure that the way we purchase does not partially/wholly dismantle what we do in development/aid.
Fairtrade brings both direct and consequential benefits. Each has an ability to bring massive change.
Firstly Fairtrade brings: –
stable and guaranteed price minimums
third-party accountability for our assurance and the workers protection
the Fairtrade premium, spent at the discretion of the co-op alone
advice on marketing, crop diversification, world market movements
a clearly defined democratic co-op structure
a voice as to how Fairtrade grows and changes in the worldwide Fairtrade community
On a secondary level Fairtrade brings these benefits to the farmer: –
Co-op’s that are salty influences in their communities as they work against ingrained cultural norms of worker abuse, slavery and child labour
empowerment and genuine grassroots development as the Co-op’s themselves decide how to spend the premium
a “restoring of faith” in trade/human relations
and for us as consumers: –
send a message to the corporate’s with every Fairtrade purchase that you as a consumer are for the worker
buy with a clear conscience as you avoid unfair trade practices
raise the issue of fairness and justice in your workplace or home thus influencing ongoing business/society principles
There are not many love actions that we take that can be so simple but have such far reaching effects. As we celebrate the greatest love act in history we encourage you to an action man/woman and make your purchases a vote for equity and justice this Easter!
..and who to buy from and not buy from this Easter and into the future
Those who are actually producing some ethical chocolate in their range. Cadbury (only their Dairy Milk bar and not all Dairy Milk eggs (Coles))
Those who are committed to far and away less robust certifications such as Rainforest Alliance Nestlé (who went Fairtrade back in 2009 than back flipped and went for Rainforest Alliance the following year and have now flipped again to UTZ)
Those who have made long-term promises (2020!) to go ‘ethical’. Ferrero, Mars
Those, as far as we know, are not committed to any certification Lindt, Hershey’s
a report commissioned by Nestlé admits that “child labour and forced labour” are part of the production of cocoa in the Ivory Coast.
Ideas for action can be found here at Tear
Videos SemiSweet Life in Chocolate, See the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK for this massive list of you Tube and other videos
Needing .. Biblical Foundation – Posters – Fairtrade Easter Eggs
March 2013 2Cor 8:13-15