March 2020

March 18, 2020

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight and I wish it wasn’t. It’s not that I don’t believe in Fairtrade rather it’s that it should be Fairtrade every day not just for fourteen days out of three hundred and sixty-five (six, this year). I have been a Fairtrade supporter for over thirty years and still I am amazed by the reaction of some Christians to Fairtrade issues which is, in essence, to say that it is not the place of the church or individual Christians to tell them how to live their lives, where to shop and what to buy or what not to buy. Well I’ve got news for you. It is the place of the church and individual Christians to tell people how to live their lives. Old Testament Patriarchs and Prophets, New Testament Apostles and Epistle writers, even Jesus, the Son of God, himself told us how to live. In John 14:15 Jesus said ‘if you love me keep my commandments’, he was not referring to the Ten Commandments, which are themselves all-embracing, but to his own words. In fact, he gave over three hundred commands but some related specifically to that time and others were re-iterations. It is generally accepted that there were around fifty and they cover all aspects of life. A list is given later in this Newsletter.

Fairtrade is not an optional extra it is a Christian imperative. It comes from Jesus who told us to “love our neighbour as ourselves” and this was only summarising the whole law as dictated by God. In the Old Testament we read that God entrusted the whole of creation into the responsibility of the human race. The clear inference is that we are to look after God’s creation just as he himself would. Just in case there is any doubt about how this works the Old Testament is full of passages telling us how to treat widows, orphans, foreigners, immigrants, the poor, the disadvantaged, the dispossessed, the ill, the family and each other. In the New Testament Jesus tells us that we are salt and light, clear implications that we have an effect on the world around us. The Apostle Paul told us that we shine like stars in a wicked and depraved generation. Again clear evidence that we have an impact on those around us.

Fairtrade is not something new it is part of God’s plan for the human race. If we treated everyone properly and didn’t simply want the best product at the cheapest price then we would not need Fairtrade fortnight and the world would be a better place. Farmers, labourers, producers, manufacturers would all get a fair price for what they produce and poverty levels would be reduced. If we shunned large conglomerates that flout World Health Organisation and International Trade regulations then poverty, sickness and early death would be reduced. If we shopped locally, brought more seasonal products as well as more UK produced and manufactured products carbon emissions would be reduced and climate change reversed.

As individuals we can make a difference, as Christians we must make a difference. Christ has commanded us to do so and God has given this world over to us. It is our responsibility to treat all people fairly, honestly, humanely and with love, We can begin this process by abandoning Fairtrade Fortnight and becoming Fairtrade people.

Ian Ring