18 January, 2009

Sweet, liquid justice...

Today saw 'Australia's Largest Chocolate Fondue Party' at Fed Square. It was a great event and I would guess 2000 people got to hear and taste the message of fair trade. The highlight for me was the look on a lady's face when I told her why we were supporting fair trade. It was a combination of disbelief, horror and then poise for social action. It made the day that much sweeter (even with the copious amounts of melted chocolate which at one point covered my face). It was reassuring to know that people could still be shocked out of their slumber with the harsh reality of injustice. However what is important to me right now, is not the moment after the initial truth is unveiled, but the decades of small and large actions to come.

In our crazy world, it is too easy apply the 'sensidine' to the nagging ache of oppression. On a happy note, there have been some bold Fair Trade moves. I heard that Virgin Blue now provide fair trade coffee. It makes sense, as Richard Branson likes to affirm his hippy business agenda from time to time. However what concerns me is not that Virgin Blue does and Qantas doesn't, its that Virgin Blue do and major Christian charities don't! How easy would it be to make one policy directing all units and agencies of a Christian charity to exclusively provide Fair Trade? Not easy at all you might say. Think of the back lash! Think of the complaints and the difficulty of enforcing such a position. I agree, it is not an easy thing administratively or politically. It is far easier to let injustice continue. I mean after all, we are all about what is 'easy' and convenient'. That's how we ended up with a 'developed' and an 'underdeveloped' world in the first place! It's not rocket science!

It seems that Fair Trade is not going to be able to rely on the backs of people who 'should' act. Instead, as I tried to explain to somebody this week, Fair Trade is going to have to succeed on the same capitalist principles we use for everything else...supply and demand. Let me quickly outline the scenario. There was a pile of free blood chocolate sitting before a friend at camp. He suggested that he may as well eat it given it was already there, otherwise the slaves sacrifice was for nothing. The problem with that logic is not that of the consumer, but of the purchaser. You see if the chocolate is eaten, the purchaser knows that there was a demand for it and continues the same level of supply. They think, 'oh, the chocolate was a hit, I shall continue to produce it for these teens who 'march' for one thing but ignore their own demands. If it was discarded however, the purchaser knows that next camp, slave chocolate would be a waste of money, no matter how cheap it is, and they switch over. And that is how we change the world! By beating capitalism at its own game!

You see when you give in, and buy slave chocolate, you are not just giving up on a principle, you are giving up on a reality. We could end slavery...but you have to first believe it, and then make good on your convictions.
So, please buy Fair Trade, and stop eating and buying blood chocolate. Spread the word!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Geeez! Thanks for not naming me! I guess we should also start applying the old "Cause a brother to stumble" principle here as well... reformation of the Salvation Army perhaps?