Each and every product we purchase comes to us through a fair or unfair trade. We don’t often consider how an item was produced or to the treatment of those who made it, but we should care about integrity in trade. Here are some reasons why we should care about fair trade, especially in how we handle our dealings with the poor.
- Unfair trade leads to entrenched poverty and hopelessness. Poverty produces desperation. Desperation produces exploitation. Exploitation produces suffering. Suffering produces hopelessness. The hopelessness of poverty is not God’s plan. Rather, the Bible is clear that God’s people are to intervene to keep people from becoming desperate and exploited as slaves or prostitutes, or end up with diseases and addictions that have been forced on them. “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with you” (Lev. 25:35 NASB). The Lord requires that we make an investment in the lives of the impoverished.
- Supporting fair trade insures opportunities for marginalized workers including fair wages, child rights, and humane working conditions. The Lord requires us to give the poor worker “his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it becomes sin in you” (Deut. 24:15 NASB). Prompt and fair payment is critical for life to those who may go without food, shelter, clothing, or dignity, because of their poverty.
- Fair trade restores dignity to the impoverished. We join the Lord in His work as “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Ps. 113:7 NASB). Fair trade restores dignity as women are freed from prostitution, families remain together because selling a child is no longer necessary, teens receive an education so they can choose a different plan for their lives, and communities are transformed where people for the first time have an income they can depend on. Fair trade gives hope for a better life and restores the dignity God intended for all people.
- Restoring dignity to the poor honors God. “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him” (Prov. 14:31 NASB). Regard for the needs of the poor worker is required because of who God is. We should need no other incentive.
So what can you do? Support fair trade with your purchasing decisions. Consider a new way of viewing the products you purchase, and realize the opportunities around you to positively impact the lives of others by seek out fair trade ministries like WorldCrafts that are making an eternal difference for impoverished artisans around the world.