Okay, so now what?
Faceless International's first goal is that people should be aware of what's happening in the world, what sort of atrocities are being committed on a day to day basis to produce the imports that we in the West take for granted.
So we learn.
We learn that our coffee is grown on plantations that don't pay their workers a living wage.
We learn that our tea is created in much the same way, without equal exchange.
We learn that our chocolate uses cocoa from farms that employ trafficked children.
We learn that our tennis shoes were sewn together by hands smaller than our own.
And so on.
We gain all this awareness about our world, and then we ask ourselves the question: so now what?
The one who was raised in the dog eat dog (or man enslaves man) world of the West understands this discrepancy in trade and says to himself: "Well, that's the nature of capitalism. One company survives and develops while its competitors die out."
The capitalist looks at the fair trade market and says that it's not economically a good choice - fair trade ultimately costs more to distribute, making prices higher in order to make a profit for the retailer. It doesn't make sense not to try to do something as cheaply as possible in order to make the largest profit out of it.
Take CDs for example: It takes a factory worker overseas a few minutes and less than a dollar of actual production to produce a CD, which is then shipped to its market and people shell out $15 or even $20 to buy it. That's mark up, and that's the nature of capitalism.
Having grown up in a capitalist market, I honestly don't have a clue what anything but this sort of market looks like. But I can't help but have a feeling of uneasiness with a market that is now functioning to keep the developing countries where they are, and help the developed countries grow richer. A system that forces people into slavery, that tells them that this is their only option, a system that doesn't allow the person creating the product to make enough money to buy it - there is something wrong with that.
So what can you and I do? Living in privileged America, it seems that there's not much we can do to change the way the market works. But then again, our American spirit also believes that with a small group of people standing up for what we believe, we know that we can start a movement, we can make a change.
The first step is learning. The second step is action.
Faceless' website has some good steps to actions that you can do in 3 minutes, 10 minutes, a day, 2 weeks.
One of those steps of action is to understand that we can use the currently corrupt capitalist system to create one that works to serve people on both ends of trade better. Goods get supplied because there is a demand for them. By purchasing fair trade goods, by creating a demand for such goods, we increase the supply. We fund fair trade markets around the world, helping fair trade companies and practices to develop. If the demand becomes large enough, we can turn capitalism around.
This is not altogether impossible, though it is challenging.
For example, when I'm craving tea, it's often a hassle to go about getting fair trade tea to make sure it was produced in a socially conscious manner. In fact, I will admit, right now I am drinking a cup of tea that is not fair trade because four weeks ago I was running low and it was "too much trouble" to go out to the World Hunger Relief Farm to shop in their Equal Exchange store.
But today, after reading the stories of those who are trafficked into slavery to produce our goods, after hearing about the children around the world who are not given the same opportunities as my small cousins, simply because of where they were born...I have made a commitment to purchasing only fairly traded coffee, tea, and chocolate.
And you can make this commitment, too. This means looking for the Fair Trade Certified Seal on packages of coffee and tea, researching which retailers carry them, and buying them - creating a demand.
This is but one small step in the process. Take a look at Faceless' site, figure out some steps you can take right now in your community. And then go out, do it.
"And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." - Colossians 3:14
After I wrote this post, I was listening to Derek Webb's new CD Stockholm Syndrome, which was released yesterday. It's quite good so far, and has a song that is particularly relevant here. The lyrics have been posted over in the sidebar, and it is available through Derek Webb's site for $8, and it is well worth it.
Posted by Dianna at 5:24 PM