Last night we were treated to a presentation at the church by Ingrid Heinrichs Pauls from Ten Thousand Villages. She was marvelous and the issue of fair trade in the market place was a wonderful topic of conversation for those of us looking to “do justice” in Lent and throughout our spiritual journeys. Ingrid’s presentation was a hands-on journey through the developing world as she highlighted items that Ten Thousand Villages market for sale from around the world. Most astonishing to me was the notion that every $3500 in sales that “Villages” achieves will support a family in a developing country and that sales last year assisted 60 000 families around the world! Praise God for the good work of the folks at Ten Thousand Villages. Ingrid provided remarkable food for thought (as well as some excellent fair trade chocolate) for Christians who want to work to help in a world hungry for justice.
I was fortunate to spend a few hours with Ingrid yesterday and it is clear that she understands well how she can as an individual have an impact on the world around her. The truth is that we all can. The challenge, in a way, is to not get convinced that we need to commit to all the causes to solve all the problems. Really what we need to do is focus our energy and our attention on our spiritual journey. We need to recommit ourselves to our baptismal promises and seek to bring dignity and respect to all persons. And we can accomplish this by thinking when we use our buying power about how we can make a difference. Thomas Merton wrote; “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation with violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys her own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.” Ingrid is a living example of how a person who focuses on being just and fair in her living, is impacting others without having to be committed to too many diverse projects. That Ten Thousand Villages has a position like Ingrid’s that allows for education and marketing of products is another great blessing. The temptation of large institutions nowadays is to overload positions with too many demands with too many foci. Having a person dedicated, in Ingrid’s case, to education, awareness and marketing is brilliance in a day when people need more than ever to be made aware of their own consumer power. I know that last night Ingrid changed the hearts of parishioners and she will have no doubt influenced how they will act and react when consuming in the market place. I have no reservation in saying that people will visit the “Villages” store in on Sandwich St here in Windsor. I am glad to have met Ingrid as I have met a woman who in her sense of being at peace is rejecting violence and chiseling away at making a more just world for all of God’s Children.
You can learn more about Ten Thousand Villages by visiting there web page at www.tenthousandvillages.com .