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We Are All God’s Precious Children

This week I am pleased to share the reflections of Melanie Hardison, who coordinates Just Living http://www.pcusa.org/justliving/ and Enough for Everyone http://www.pcusa.org/enough/ as part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  I am fortunate to work with Melanie, particularly as we endeavor to be part of the faith contingent of the Fair Trade Futures conference in September 2010.  I also have a bit of pride at her contributions to Fair Trade as she and I both attended Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, which has deep ties to the Presbyterian Church.  No matter what your denomiation (or lack thereof) both Melanie and I will be curious to read your response to her blog’s final question.” ~ Jackie DeCarlo

by Melanie Hardison

How does faith inform my work with Fair Trade?  One of my early formative moments happened when I was 11 years old, in confirmation class.  I went through confirmation with my father, who wanted to become Presbyterian and had asked if he could go through confirmation and join the church with me. (For those of you unfamiliar with Presbyterianism, this is – to say the least – unusual.  I’m still grateful that both the pastor and I said yes.)

The formative moment came when the pastor led us in an activity in which we wrote the words, “Who Am I?” at the top of a sheet of paper.  Before writing our answers, we were instructed to write these words next: “I am a Child of God.” I remember the pastor encouraging us to express who we understood ourselves to be, but saying first: “No matter what else you are, always remember first and foremost that you are a Child of God.”  I was aware, too, that my dad had written “I am a Child of God” at the top of his page, and indeed each person the class had written “I am a Child of God” at the top of their page.  It was part of the lesson: We are all God’s precious children.

As I grew older and began to learn about injustice and suffering in the world, I began to wrestle deeply with how it came to be that I was born into a life more privileged than most people in the world.  I was born with white skin, in the United States, in a wealth-class family, with two stable parents that were able to provide for my basic needs, and more.  I enjoyed health insurance, was able to go to college, and more.  If I had all these things and was able to get around fairly easily in the world, why can’t everyone?  Aren’t we all God’s children?

As a young adult I also came to develop my identity as a theologian and activist, thanks in part to the Youth Theology Institute at Candler School of Theology, an incredible minister Rev. Clover Beal, and my coursework with the Religious Studies Department at Agnes Scott College.  It seems that my whole life, from confirmation class to my current work in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I have been exploring the social and public implications of individual faith and how it can be applied in the church and world.

Fair Trade is a significant part of the professional work I feel called to do.  As a Presbyterian I believe that God does not wish suffering or poverty or violence on some people and not others; rather it is human-made structures that are imperfect and unjust, not God’s structures. There is enough for everyone – enough love, abundance, creativity and joy – that there must be a way we can each live to our most full and true potential.  Those of us who are able to work for the survival of others (because we don’t have to focus on survival for ourselves) have a responsibility to do so.

For the 1,300,000,000+ people in the world who live with hunger, and the 2,000,000,000+ people who live on less than $2.00 per day – all of whom (like me, my dad and the other kids in my confirmation class) are God’s precious children – Fair Trade is a viable economic alternative that helps people gain access to needed resources, provide for their families, help gain control over their lives and live with increased dignity.  It’s a system I have experienced at the ground level in a number of cooperatives in a number of countries, and I believe in it fully.

These are the things that have undergirded my work in Fair Trade and related initiatives for the last 11 years.  What shapes and inspires yours?

1 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blogg. It´s just that what inspires me to work with Fair Trade, it just makes sense and it´s a way where I can put my convictions into actions.
    I´m also a yoga teacher so Fair Trade is the only economic way I found that shares similar spiritual principles.
    At La Chiwinha, we enjoy and are blessed to be bringing Fair Trade into people´s lives here in Puerto Rico.

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