This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! – Jeremiah 22:3-4
I just returned from downtown Wake Forest, where I met a friend for coffee at my favorite java emporium. I like nothing better than to walk down White Street in the early morning, see the town beginning to come to life, grab the worn leather chairs in the corner of the Wake Forest Coffee Company, and talk about life and faith with one of the guys from church.
The coffee pot at home got a boost this week when our first shipment of fair-trade coffee from Equal Exchange arrived on the doorstep. I always do my best to hunt down fair-trade certified coffee, but – after too much disappointment at (and disinterest from) my Target grocery store – I finally opened an account with a reliable source.
I have chosen Equal Exchange: Fairly Traded because of its affiliation with many church and other non-profit organizations. My own denomination – PC(USA) – recognizes the intentions and practices of Equal Exchange as a positive step toward helping small, local, growers and villages profit from their trade for the betterment of their often impoverished communities.
NO EXCUSES! There is no perfect model, of course, and there is a lot of debate and controversy surrounding the fair-trade movement in general (you can read about that on their website). But lack of consensus is not an excuse for doing nothing, so I’m happy to take my coffee investment away from blatant exploitation and reassign it to a venue that is at least trying, and at least transparent in its practices.
I’d like to highlight something I just said, because I believe it has broad applications: “lack of consensus is no excuse for doing nothing.”
Usually – while the arguers are facing off, the religious law-keepers are judging, and the agitators are trying to prove everyone else wrong – the real work of the Kingdom of God is accomplished by tens, scores, hundreds, thousands, and millions of small acts of love and kindness, widely distributed by faithful practitioners of grace.
Shopping “fair trade” is a small act of grace. But if enough of us repeat it, consistently, like unheralded kindness in a marriage, it can chip away at the groundwater of what’s wrong until over time grace and mercy win the upper hand.
I think I’ll leave this post there. Let’s start a revolution of kindness and grace. I’ll drink to that (coffee that is) – DEREK