20 years ago I was accompanying my mother round various churches and community centres in the North East to listen to her talk about Fair Trade (and to help carry a variety of large and at times peculiar products). At the time no-one had really heard of the concept and getting hold of fairly traded products was almost impossible.
It’s fantastic to see that now it is possible to choose fairly traded alternatives to many products, I can get most products from the supermarket instead of having to hunt out somewhere selling Traidcraft products and events like Fair Trade fortnight are widely publicised in the media so public awareness of the issues is growing.
So tonight, in a church council meeting, I was amazed to hear one of our members state that,
“we’d have a lot fewer people staying for coffee if we started serving that“ … the that in question being fairly traded instant coffee … not that I’m a great fan of any instant coffee but it would be hard to make worse coffee than that which we get served regularly on Sundays! It seems so important to me that as a faith community we stand up for principles of social justice, and for issues like fair trade, and are visible in doing so and the fact that this issue was basically brushed under the carpet because we have far more important things (like flower festivals!) to discuss is pretty infuriating.
So I’m annoyed, with myself because I should have challenged that viewpoint but I was so taken aback to hear it after so many years of general acceptance (certainly from most within the churches I have been to) that I didn’t have a quick comeback at the ready … but also that the attitude still prevails. Something will have to be said. I’ve been far too well behaved of late anyway having found a church where I am accepted and where I feel at home so its probably time I started to ask a few questions.