It IS All About You by Rebecca Ballard
Our world is certainly complex. One moment I am overwhelmed with anger and frustration about children in cages, the treatment of journalists around the globe, or the kindhearted souls sleeping on the streets yet another night. And then I see a gorgeous sunset, receive a toddler kiss from my sweet son, of snuggle up under blankets by a roaring fire while drinking hot cider, and my heart wants to explode with love and joy.
It’s a crazy world, and in it we each have a calling. We are all called to choose kindness, do what is right no matter how hard, and be shining examples of light. To speak the truth, and to lead by example. We are all far from perfect, and will stumble and fall, but will then courageously dust ourselves off and try again. The details of each calling are unique, but there are also some specific things that are true for all of us reading this post, people who have electricity, Internet and technology access, and English literacy: we are all called to turn exploitation into empowerment and privilege into purpose.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~ Marianne Williamson
And this is hard stuff! However there is hope in the fact that none of us are in this alone. Plus there are so many ways to do good. Personally I’ve traveled through law, policy, management, product creation, and more in my own vocational journey. I may struggle with the current Federal administration, but this week marks the third convening of the Global Parliament of Mayors. I remember being a delegate at the first convening two years ago and our conversation about building bridges, not walls. Their third convening resulted in the Bristol Declaration and brought about greater collaboration and connectivity in global and local governance.
Global governance has brought us some wonderful things over the past few years, with one of the most important achievements being the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Created in 2015 and adopted by all United Nations member states, these 17 goals are an urgent call to action for peace and prosperity for people and out planet. Goals range from ending hunger and poverty to building sustainable cities and communities, peace and justice, and innovation and infrastructure. When I look at the SDGs, they can seem daunting and “out there”, yet we all have the power to take action towards the SDGs in our everyday choices by choosing fair trade.
Fair trade makes the lofty ideals of the SDGs visceral and actionable on an individual level. Fair trade in fact long predates the SDGs, as it began over 60 years ago when Ten Thousand Villages started buying needlework from Puerto Rico and then expanded trade to poor communities in the Global South. And the fair trade community celebrated when the SDGs were announced:
For the first time, the United Nations have agreed on a series of shared objectives that will apply to all, eliminating the old division between North and Southern countries. It makes us all responsible for the planet we inhabit and respectful of all its populations. That is, in itself, already an improvement compared to the old Millennium Development Goals. ~ Sergi Corbalán, Fair Trade Advocacy Office Executive Director
The SDGs set the aims and fair trade is the method for achievement. While SDG 12 specifically focuses on sustainable production and consumption, fair trade drives towards the achievement of every single SDG. For example, SDG Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. This goal is incredibly important to me and likely all of you reading this. Of the World Fair Trade Organization 10 Principles of Fair Trade, Principle Four focuses on fair payment (which includes that amongst men and women) and Principle Six is a commitment to nondiscrimination, gender equity, and women’s economic empowerment.
In this country we are spoiled for choice. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by options, and paradoxically sometimes we feel like we have no option as consumption is made so easy here.
Our choices matter tremendously and should not be taken lightly. They enable us to support fair trade, through which we can honor our planet and care for creation. Our choices link us to others in ways we may have never fathomed. Just look at the simple act of purchasing Halloween decorations: the recent film “Letter from Masanjia” tells of an American woman in 2012 finding a letter written by a prisoner in a Chinese labor camp in a box of Halloween decorations.
However making a difference is easier said than done. It’s up to each of us to take action in our daily choices, but many times we fall short. We intend to do good, but don’t follow through.
I’m very interested in exploring the gap between desire and action. And this is where the #VoteWithYourWallet pledge comes in. By combining the commitment and promise that comes with a pledge, along with a community of supportive individuals and partnership with a number of amazing organizations, we can really create change together. You can also count on the #VoteWithYourWallet campaign to give you the resources and tools to make wise decisions in line with your deepest values.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
Think about the way the world is and how it could be. Consider how each action you take will both transform the world and will also transform YOU. And if you are so bold as to aim to turn passion into action, take the pledge and encourage others to do the same. We’ll be with you every step of the way with a community of support and resources to help you make wonderful, wise choices.
Rebecca Ballard, Founder, #VoteWithYourWallet Campaign. Rebecca has worked in Washington, DC and throughout Asia as a lawyer, social entrepreneur, Executive Director, and consultant. She founded Maven Women to create ethical, elegant day-to-evening attire and “move the needle” through product creation and partnership, consumer education, and advocacy. Rebecca lives in Washington, DC and looks forward to meeting you at this year’s Fair Trade Fashion Show.