Christian Aid Week…how do the poor see us..

Had a very good Christian Aid Week service at church this morning. Lots of good use of CA’s resources and an interesting sermon based on Luke 7:36-50 – the story of a woman, probably a prostitute, worshipping Jesus by pouring expensive perfume over his feet.

The key thing I took away was the need for forgiveness. It’s a word that’s passed around lightly in Christian circles but the concept of forgiveness is hugely important.

In the context of the story from Luke’s gospel, Jesus accepted the woman and forgave her wrongdoing (though I suspect it wasn’t entirely her fault she was in the situation she was in).

In the context of Christian Aid, it was noted that we all exploit the third/developing world and maybe we need them to forgive us of that.

It may not always be out of choice; it’s hard to find clothes/coffee/chocolate/electrical goods/etc that have not involved some form of exploitation of cheap or forced labour, child labour, sweatshops and unfair pricing, and when you can find them buying them can be prohibitively expensive.

Yet, in any case, I suspect that if you invited a child labourer from the developing world into your house you’d feel quite guilty and they’d be aghast at the wealth and luxury of even the poorest Briton.

How does that make us feel about what we buy and where it’s come from? It makes me want to be even more scrupulous about my consuming of stuff. I’m the first to admit that Fairtrade isn’t a silver bullet that will cure all the world’s trade ills, but it’s a start and it’s my vote to say that people should be treated and paid fairly and justly and that I’m willing to stump up a bit extra of my relatively-vast amount of cash to achieve that.

But, as I said, we have limited choice.

The problem is that, with trade, we’re such tiny parts of a huge machine. We CAN – we MUST – do our bit but so much of our choice comes from the big corporations that sell us stuff, and that, fuelled by our consumer culture. Without a major shift in how our western society as a whole plays the trade game, we won’t be turning around and asking for forgiveness any time soon.