Tag Archive | fair trade

Thoughts before Valentine’s Day

valentines-day-rosesBefore Big Business exploited the commercial value of February 14th by selling cards, candy, candles, and flowers*, the day honored St. Valentine — a Roman priest who secretly married couples when the emperor had forbidden his soldiers to marry. For this, Valentine was executed. His feast day was meant to remind us that the call to love transcends political regulations.

The concept of love has evolved, always expanding. From love of immediate family and tribe, it broadened to loving those beyond tribal members, provided they were friends. Jesus expanded the concept to include enemies — a challenging concept even today. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” became an accepted goal of most religions. Modern science introduced us to a vast and interconnected creation that has been evolving for aeons. Many discovered that their surroundings were not a collection of objects, but rather a communion of subjects — as Thomas Berry stated it. Nothing can be isolated from the whole. Science has also shown us the power of love. No “other,” of whatever religion, color, or nationality, is separate from us, and those in need deserve preferential care.

Here are some challenging quotes to ponder about the kind of love needed in our time. Important notes on Valentine’s Day gift-giving follow*:

 Jesus of Nazareth 

jesus-na-sinagoga-de-nazare-foto-do-filmeAs found in Matt. 5: Love your enemies! … If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that ….

As found in John 13: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

mte5ntu2mze2mjgwndg5ndgzMartin Luther King, Jr.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

pierre-teilhard-de-chardins-quotes-8… Love is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mysterious of the cosmic forces.

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Your favorites? Please add other quotes (women’s needed!) in Comments. Thanks!

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If you give cards, candy, candles, or flowers, live your love this way:

  • Cards: Make sure paper is recycled or from sustainable sources. This protects forests, a vital contributor to reducing global warming. Recycled things reduce waste and pollution. Also, recycle the ones you receive.
  • Candy: Give chocolate labeled Fair Trade. Cacao farming done improperly strips the world of hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest. More than 15,000 child slaves work on cacao farms in west Africa. Fair Trade guarantees social justice, environmental protection, and economic development.
  • Candles: Avoid paraffin, which is the byproduct of gas and oil refineries and will emit pollutants and carcinogens.
  • Flowers: Give Fair Trade flowers. Conventional workers are often exploited to keep costs low, leading to severe abuse and mistreatment. (Mega farms in South America mostly employ women, often for long hours and low pay, including unpaid overtime. Some have been accused of using child labor.) The work can result in repetitive stress injuries and exposure to pesticides and herbicides, including known carcinogens. The not-fair-trade farms suck up local water and leave behind toxic chemical residues.

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking: Preventable Modern Slavery

 Everything is interconnected. Thomas Berry liked to remind people that images-1 creation is    a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects. Thus care of our beloved Earth includes care for every component of it. This season the Sisters of the Holy Child (I am one) are focusing our corporate justice efforts on human trafficking.

A 2012 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on human trafficking says around 20.9 million victims are forced into labor globally. “Labor” includes any work that is not voluntary, where freedom is denied and, too often, conditions are deplorable. This includes situations that are agricultural, domestic, manufacturing, or sexual. Trafficking for organ transplants also occurs.

Human trafficking is not limited to poor and underdeveloped areas, but extends to all world regions, including cities throughout the United States. Given the rapid increase in this slavery, it is possible that trafficking in persons could exceed the trafficking of drugs and arms, making it the most lucrative criminal activity in the world.

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Many countries 
(and states in the U.S.) have made laws meant to stop trafficking and assist victims of it. Vatican experts will gather November 2013 to tackle the growing scourge of human trafficking. The bishop’s academy, with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, will meet at the Vatican City’s Casina Pio IV to discuss a Vatican action plan to help combat what is often referred to as the modern slave trade.

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Buying Fair Trade coffee and chocolate is one sure way to                                     reduce the demand for trafficked laborers.

Children are often trafficked to be used/abused in the growth and production of both coffee and chocolate. Multiple reports show that children aged 12-16, but sometimes as young as 7-9, are tricked, smuggled, and sold to work as slave labor working with coffee beans and cocoa beans. Thus one way to both care for creation and reduce trafficking is to purchase sustainable and fair trade coffee and chocolate.                                                                                       

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Fair-trade certification means that workers are paid fair wages, are free from abusive, exploitative labor practices, work in healthy and safe conditions, and that land, water, and birds are protected because growers use environmentally sustainable methods. Hundreds of thousands of farmers and workers in about 70 countries have benefited from fair trade practices.

By buying fair-trade coffee and chocolate we increase the demand for products free of abusive child labor and slavery.

When buying coffee and chocolate (and other products), check for a sign that it is Fair Trade. Some products have a rectangular black and white seal; others (e.g., Equal Exchange) mark themselves as “Fairly Traded” or (e.g., Theo chocolate) “fair for life.” Recommended coffee companies include Equal Exchange and Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Look for fair trade labels on other brands (e.g., Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Allegro, Green Mountain, Ben & Jerry’s) that provide some, but not all, fair trade.

These brands might be more expensive than brands like Nestle (Hills Brothers, Nescafe, Taster’s Choice) and Philip Morris (Brim, General Foods, Gevalia, Maxim, Maxwell House, Sanka), but the cheaper price might mean that child labor — or poor sustainability practices — are used. (No, I am not accusing these brands.) In this case, we definitely don’t want to buy the cheapest product! Reducing child trafficking is surely priceless!

Those who already buy only Fair Trade products can be comforted to know that they are reducing the number of children who are trafficked. Naturally buying fair trade products will not eliminate all human trafficking, but it will take a bite (sorry, couldn’t resist) from this modern slavery.