Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fair Trade

As every parent knows, "that's not fair" is a regular refrain from most middle-school-aged members of the family.  It tends to be an irritant for parents and teachers alike. In the midst of this refrain though, we get a small glimpse of the kingdom of God.  Humans were created with a fairness meter inside of us; society spends years trying to dismantle it. 

This finely tuned Fair-o-meter also knows a good thing when it sees it.  Last night my confirmation class was treated to a lesson about fair trade chocolate. The presenter explained first how chocolate was made.  Then she worked backwards to how cocoa is grown.  The students were very surprised to learn that children were being forced to work for low pay in the cocoa business so they could enjoy low cost candy bars.  Next she explained about the four conditions required to make something fair trade: No child labor, good stewardship of the land, democratic participation by members of the cooperative, and fair and just prices.  All of this taken together helped them understand why fair trade chocolate products cost more.  Then she suggested they use social media to challenge the big candy companies to use fair trade chocolate.  The kids liked the fair-ness of this.  Later in class we made fun foam turkeys which will be sold at exorbitant prices to provide turkeys to families in need for Thanksgiving.  They understood again that it was a fair exchange.

Imagine my surprise when during my morning blog-surfing I came across another young person thinking about chocolate, but from a different faith and fairness perspective. Cindy McPeake is living and working in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, for a year through ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. The following is excerpted from her blog entry Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. . . and Jesus:
At the beginning of the movie, after the Golden Ticket announcement has been made, Charlie receives his birthday present- a bar of chocolate. This will be the only bar of chocolate he gets all year. After opening the chocolate and NOT finding the Golden Ticket, he begins to share his chocolate bar with the rest of the family. His mom tells him not to, it's his only chocolate bar, it's his birthday and he should enjoy it for himself. Charlie says, “it’s my candy bar and I’ll do what I want with it.” He proceeds to break off a piece for each family member. And each one does something different with it. One inhales the delicious aroma of chocolate, one takes a large bite, and one savors the flavor slowly. For me it was obvious to make a parallel between this moment and our call as Christians. We have received a great gift and we are called to share that gift, the love of Christ, with those around us. We are Charlie.
The Kingdom of Heaven runs on a different economy.  It is fair; actually it is beyond fair.  It is generous as only a child knows how to be generous - sharing without worrying about tomorrow, having less so that others can have a share.

I think that's a fair trade - teaching our kids about the world while they teach us about the kingdom!  I am guessing that God planned it this way.

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