Editorial: The Golden Rule of Fair Trade

Written by Cafe Campesino on Aug 1, 2006 in Editorial, NEWSLETTER |

In last month’s edition of Fair Grounds, Bill wrote an articulate, accurate, and timely article about emerging tensions and divisions in the Fair Trade movement, and more importantly, how they stand to affect the future prospects for our producer partners around the world.

His article, The Fair Tradin’ Crossroad Blues, is an invaluable reality-check and poignant reminder that 1) even though the concept of Fair Trade isn’t rocket science, thousands of years of bad trading habits are hard to break and 2) protecting the integrity of Fair Trade requires, as Jefferson said about freedom, “eternal vigilance.” But vigilance alone will not make global trade fair.

The crossroad that Bill describes in his article strikes me as a great opportunity for Fair Traders to take a good hard look at what we do so that we can better define and implement Fair Trade. Not only should we expect challenges to our paradigm, we should welcome them, regardless of whether they come from within or outside of the Fair Trade movement. Challenges are what rouse us from vigilance and call us to action when it is required. For Fair Traders, action means refining and improving the Fair Trade model so that it effectively serves disenfranchised, impoverished small-scale producers around the world and remains a sustainable, true extension of the Golden Rule in the daily lives of trading partners around the world. If challenges to our model of Fair Trade enhance our ability to achieve these two ends, we need to be flexible and willing to adapt; if they do not, then we need to be prepared to enter the fray and stand with our trading partners in defense of treating each other with respect, dignity and fairness.

Although Fair Trade is very likely at the crossroad that Bill describes, we should find strength in the fact that virtually all of the world’s spiritual traditions endorse the concept of people treating others as they themselves wish to be treated. Strip away all of our self-imposed divisions and barriers and underneath it all, maybe the people of the world do want the same thing! Below are some of the world’s different expressions of what I believe Fair Traders are all about…the Golden Rule.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5,1

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:1

Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. Analects 12:2

This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. Mahabharata 5,1517

No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 3id

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien

That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5

(Source: http://www.teachingvalues.com)

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