A reflection for Fairtrade fortnight
Matthew 5: 1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
A Reflection for Fairtrade Fortnight (22nd February- 7th March 2021)
Imagine a world freed from the scandal of poverty.
Imagine a world where trade is just.
Imagine a world where people and communities can flourish.
We believe such a world is possible and our mission is to help to bring it about by fighting poverty using trade as our weapon.
We support the development of people to achieve their God-given potential and we promote relationships between rich and poor people that enable the poor to earn from their skills and for the rich to learn from the poor.
So begins a leaflet about Traidcraft, a Fairtrade organisation dreamt about by students at St John’s College, Durham, in the 1960s, established in the 1970s, and now a company selling the world’s widest range of fairly traded products, with its associated charity, Traidcraft Exchange, alongside, a charity specialising in making trade work for the poor.
Since these early signs of hope, 50 years ago, the idea of fair trading has grown, so it is now an idea which most have at least heard of, if are not familiar with; for example, the Fairtrade symbol on a Kitkat, the bananas in Sainsbury’s, Divine bars…
And yet, around the world, there is still massive injustice in the trading system. Almost a billion people are fighting to survive on less than a dollar a day. Small scale farmers in developing countries are forced to grow cash crops which are exported, rather than growing sustenance for themselves and their families. The rich corporations get richer, and the farmers, who do the work, see very little of the rewards. The rules are made to benefit the rich.
The world has always favoured the rich and the powerful. A flick through the Old Testament tells of lavish banquets and costly jewels for kings and those in power, and of slaves working to make bricks without straw. A glimpse at a gospel tells of rich landowners and emperors, and warns of the dangers of placing love of money above love of God. And into this world comes Jesus; Jesus, who befriended the poor, the small children, the ill, those on the edges of society. He came, bringing hope to the hopeless, and up-turning the views which are so ingrained in us as humans. Blessed are the poor…blessed are the meek….blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness….
Fair trade is a system which places the poor at its heart. It’s a system that listens to the voices of the exploited, and hears their stories. It’s a system which offers partnership instead of exploitation, which offers hope instead of fighting for survival, which allows planning for the future. It is a system which turns the focus away from wealth and power to the values Jesus brought; those of love, hope and justice.
We go in to the supermarket, and it’s hard to remember that we are beholden to people across the world-many of them fighting to survive on the little they earn-who supply the products we value so highly. It’s hard not to sift through for a good bargain, or to choose the exciting looking new chocolate or coffee. It also takes a little more time and energy to think about the effects of what we buy, and see beyond the product at the supermarket.
This Fairtrade fortnight, we invite you to remember that we are beholden to people across the globe, to think a little about their stories, and to act justly and bring love and hope in the ways in which you are able.
More information about Fairtrade is available at:
Beauty for brokenness, Graham Kendrick
The covenant prayer from Traidcraft:
I am no longer my own but yours. Call me and open my eyes to the injustice around me, the unfairness around me and the poverty around me; call me to dare to change my lifestyle, my habits and my outlook for you. Call me to strive for fairness and justice in everything I do, not just in words, but in actions; not just locally, but globally. Let me change myself for you, and so change the world for you. I freely and wholeheartedly commit myself to this duty, knowing that in everything you will give me your inspiration, strength and grace. Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.