black t shirt
Before the readers of this article begin to imagine that I live on some mountain top, sling on the Birkenstocks (which I happen to love), crunch on granola and soy for sustainment (blech), braid the hairs on my legs and meditate daily in the hopes of achieving ascension and enlightenment (Amen), know that at least you are partially correct in your musings.
I drive a car, have a carbon foot print, shop at a really large chain grocery store and commit other consumer sins. I mean come on! Convenience, more Benjamin’s in the wallet and catchy zillion dollar advertisement campaigns! Fortunately too, I was given, as every person is, a conscience and the free will to use it.
Being born in the 60’s has afforded me the opportunity to be a part of “Generation Jones” which is a term coined by sociologist Jonathan Potell. This demographic can be best described as being born between the years 1954-1965. We are too young to be Boomers and too old to be a part of Generation X. We are unique and deserve our own niche. We are especially blessed because we came of age when we did. This I feel to be true.
Generation Jones individuals are the little brothers or sisters of the people who were going to or coming home from Vietnam, free loving at Woodstock, making “Victory” signs at every opportunity and growing their hair. We loved the Beatles, or at least loved the people who loved the Beatles. We were young and impressionable when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We came to accept the turmoil associated with political and social upheavals as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in front of our black and white 21 ” Philco television sets. We Jonesed for more.
Oh, how I loved our television set. We bought it from our neighbor, Ed. He had a shop, a television shop! We went there and bought a television. We took it there when it was broken, or sometimes he came to the house to repair it. Interestingly enough, there were also dress shops, car shops and shoe stores. When we were sick and needed medicine, we picked up our prescriptions at the family owned pharmacy, and had a milk shake at the counter while we waited.
This was a time when you supported the little guy in business. This was way before it was cool to do so. In retrospect and quite simply, this era was the very definition of this grassroots establishment. As a result, it is something that our generational demographic can identify with. As one grows and matures, we are more swiftly able to recognize our authentic selves, and those things with which we identify.
Anyway, I went to that enormous retail super store today. You know, the one with the catchy slogan about living money and saving better, or something along those lines. I bought some stuff too. Yes indeed, I did. Me, myself, my Birkenstocked feet, my belly filled with a fast-food chain egg Mc sandwich and my post-meditative mind. I was supporting the big guy this time, for the sake of convenience in the reality of my day. I felt conflicted, yet not for long. I knew where my heart lived because I also actively support the little guy.
Spirituality and human interconnection is what makes me go tick-tock. Creating personal shifts in one’s awareness causes a difference in global energies. People in Guatemala and Kenya are my spiritual neighbors. Our hearts beat because of the same source of energy. However, it seems nearly impossible to completely shift one’s lifestyle to reflect our most important personal beliefs. Moderation seems to be the best manner with which to successfully synthesize our righteous principles to our daily rituals. No need exists for radical extremist transformation. All we need is a heart filled with the desire to do right. All we need is to follow through on our intentions.
I, for example support the Fair Trade movement. Nope. Not Free Trade. Fair Trade. Ahh, I can see your light bulbs flashing. Yes! Those groovy little artsy villages that make really beautiful handmade items. In impoverished nations under strict guidelines as dictated by the Fair Trade Federation. Actually, the purchases you make sustain a family financially by providing them with a fair wage. This in turn enhances the village in terms of stability and personal empowerment. How does this sit with you? Personally, supporting this effort sits with me just fine. Your purchase also enhances the environment. For example there is a village which recovers washed up tourist’s flip flop sandals from the shore. A process was taught to the village whereby necklaces and earrings are crafted from them. This saves the fish population because the schools do not become entangled in the volumes of flip flops. No, I am not kidding. There are also artisans in Haiti who use recycled oil drums to make ethnic masks and wall art. Talk about ingenuity and a solution toward global waste issues. I challenge you to have a chat with yourself about these issues as you view products and items in the big guy stores.
Am I loaded with money? Just the question is laughable. Do I still have control over my choices?
As sure as the sun shines, I do. The choice is usually quite simple. If I can buy the product from a Fair Trade retailer, I will opt to do so. Are prices higher when buying from a Fair Trade retailer? No.
Some people I speak to tend to think that in order to support Fair Trade, you must be a hippy of sorts, have long flowing gray hair, listen to The Turtles, sport a flower behind your ear and sway to The Mammas and The Pappas. You do not have to be “that kind of person” to actively support Fair Trade, unlike the typical stereotype perhaps suggests. That being said, if you are, then Right on, man.
The following is a brief list of attributes which are personal qualifiers for the support of the Fair Trade concept: If you find yourself nodding your head to at least one of these descriptions, then you too can hold your head up high and help the little guy, in an enormous way:
1: Have a pulse
2: Wear any sort of shoes
3: Shave your arm pits and legs, or not
4: Be a vegan, or carnivore
5: Jam to any genre of music
6: Have long, short, dyed, curly, straight or no hair on your head
7: Buy stuff for yourself or others
8: Work in any profession
9: Adore or deplore anything Patchouli
With the use of computers, we have the capability to be a part of this concept globally. As the adage indicates, there are simply some things in life that provide us with an opportunity to not only do something nice, but to pay it forward in the process. Buying Fair Trade products puts a smile on the face of the person who receives the gift. Why? Because the products are outstandingly unique and beautiful. You can feel the lovely and spiritual energy in each piece, for each item is created with love and seasoned with hope. You provide your poverty-stricken global neighbor with opportunities to develop skills, self worth, self empowerment and self esteem by creating a demand for their products, and your purchase provides a sustainable wage for the artisan, their family and their village community. For now, and for future generations. The change is inevitable and perpetual.
The items that global Fair Trade artisans create are as diverse as their cultures. In fact each artisan creates their wares as a celebration of their cultures and heritage, an homage of sorts.
I have intense faith in the principle of kindness which is not a characteristic of a generation, but a beautiful human quality. When presented with an option, please consider choosing Fair Trade, and stay true to all that is good.
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write by FREDERICK ELLIS