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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 170 NO 9
3 Thought for the Week:
Fairtrade Fortnight Judi Brill 4-5 News 6 A moral lead for bankers? Tommy Gee 7 The message from St Pauls Ian Kirk-Smith 8-9 Letters 10-11 Diseases of affluence Mandy Moore 12-13 Quakers and creation:
The unity of things Stuart Masters 14 God’s apostles Ken Veitch 16 q-eye: a look at the Quaker world 17 Friends & Meetings
We are all one, in a subtle but most significant way, one in the sense of being interdependent. I would not be as I am without you; you would not be as you are without me. At one level this is not difficult to understand. I realise how much I am the product not only of my parents' genes, but also of their emotional and intellectual influence which derived, in turn, from the ambience of their own family life, culture and education. And I am the product of my schooling, the intellectual ideas which have shaped my thoughts, my friends, my wife, my children – all of whose lives I, in turn, am helping to create.
This is easy to grasp. It is also easy to grasp how, for example, our tastes and addictions influence people far outside our range of knowledge. For instance, whether I prefer tea to coffee for breakfast affects the economy of, say, Sri Lanka or India, Kenya or Colombia. And this means that the lives of millions of people I have never met are affected. The whimsy of my taste buds may lead to the bankruptcy or the prosperity of nations, to revolutions or oppressions. Who knows? All we can be sure of is that everything we do, say or think cannot help having an impact on the totality, the All of which we form a part.
Adam Curle, 1992 Quaker faith & practice 29.07
Cover image: Embroiderer Rahima Khatun from Swajan in Bangladesh. Photo courtesy of Traidcraft:GMB Akash.
Fairtrade Fortnight, organised by the Fairtrade Foundation, runs between 27 February to 11 March. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that licenses uses of the Fairtrade mark in the UK.
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the Friend, 2 March 2012 Fairtrade Fortnight
Thought for the Week
Years ago, during supper at Woodbrooke, the Friend in residence called for a few minutes of silence to give thanks for the food we were eating and for the hand that grew it. This thought took my imagination beyond agricultural machinery and combine harvesters to the human being who had nurtured and harvested the food. I wondered where they lived and what kind of conditions they worked in to produce the food I so readily took for granted.
Nowadays, I work as stock manager for a fair trade clothing company and feel very connected to our Southern Indian producer partners when I unpack the goods from cartons that have been so recently packed by them at the beginning of the chain. I’ve seen pictures of them in their place of work and of their children playing in the crèche. I know some of their names and have heard, from my colleagues who have been to visit them in India, first-hand descriptions of their homes and living conditions.
The company I work for pays a premium to the Fairtrade Foundation on every item we import because the cotton used in manufacture is fairly traded. In addition, the price we pay per garment allows the human beings who make our products to have above average wages, secure employment, allowances for health care, a provident fund, gratuities and sickness benefit. The profits from our joint efforts is not distributed to wealthy speculators but is invested in a trust fund to provide our producer partners with education grants and other social benefits of the kind we expect as of right in our developed world. That’s great value for money! We live in the developed world. Before buying anything we can choose to think about, for example, the production of the raw material, the manufacturing chain and the people involved – from the migrant worker picking Cornish daffodils to the miner working in conditions of armed conflict in the Congo acquiring the materials to make our mobile phones. What do they gain from our connection? Do they have jobs that are fulfilling and the dignity of being able to provide for their dependents whilst working in a safe environment and being treated with respect… as many of us in this country enjoy?
Choices about what we should buy are getting easier with the Fairtrade mark guaranteeing that the agricultural grower has received a just payment. The Fairtrade mark also indicates the ethical manufacture of goods which are produced from fairly traded raw products.
The decision whether to buy at all is getting harder as we try to reduce what we consume of the earth’s resources. By buying fewer fairly traded items made out of sustainable Fairtrade agricultural products, however, we are making it harder for producers to maintain their livelihoods. We all need to earn a living and if we, in the affluent west, stop buying then the consequences for those who produce in developing countries are dire. We should continue to moderately consume while making sure that those products we buy provide real benefit to the people who actually produce them.
A customer to our shop this week said: ‘A treat for me and a treat for them’. That sounds like Fairtrade to me.
Judi Brill Bristol Area Meeting the Friend, 2 March 2012