Last night I listened to a powerful speaker, Steve Chalke, and learned about Stop the Traffik; an organization committed to the abolishment of human trafficking, the second most lucrative crime worldwide.
Chalke reminded me that when people asked William Wilberforce what they could do to help move Parliament’s hand to abolish the slave trade in England, he told them to stop taking sugar in their tea. In other words, government listens when consumers affect the economic balances of our societies and in the early 1800s, the slaves worked on the sugar plantations. But if no one bought the sugar…they wouldn’t need the slaves.
Forty-three percent of the world’s chocolate comes from cocoa beans harvested in Cote D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) of Africa. An estimated 12,000 children have been trafficked to harvest these cocoa beans. No candy bar is worth eating if I know one child has been separated from Mom and forced to work.
Thanks to the Internet and our access to information, we can make knowledgeable consumer decisions relatively easily. Websites and companies like Equal Exchange allow us to learn how to purchase our daily pleasures that are not grown in the United States–mainly coffee, tea, and chocolate. Some tea companies deal exclusively with fair trade teas such as Rishi and Fair Trade Teas. But many tea companies offer some fair trade teas in their selections, and it’s always worth asking.
It’s been said ignorance is bliss and I say, it’s true. Life is easier when I don’t know that the small decisions I’m making affect the lives of others in dramatic ways. But my bliss cannot be my goal. I sang, “Jesus loves the little children…All the children of the world” to my daughter tonight with new understanding. Her innocence and safety has been protected through deep sacrifices on my part. Does that mean my anthropology professors in college were right and I do this because I’m programmed to protect my genes? What a sad testimony to the human spirit that would be! No, I may not be able to take every child under my roof, but if by asking a few questions, spending some extra pennies, and sharing what I know I can help protect another child’s innocence and safety, I will.
I hope you will, too.