I brought my lunch with me to work today: spaghetti and meatballs. I had cooked it right before I left, so it was still warm when I got to the church (those of you who know me realize that I usually don’t waste the time to re-heat food) and I sucked it down while trying to finish this Sunday’s gathering. Afterward, I printed something off in the main church office. While in the main office I realized that there were a couple cookies left over from a funeral reception earlier this week. Since I was at the funeral I figured, hey, I can have one of those cookies. I picked up a big chocolate chip cookie and it was the consummate end to an already satisfying lunch.
I listened to a podcast today by a guy named Steve Chalke. He’s from London and thus he sounds extremely bright with that British accent. I found myself silently agreeing with him from time to time, enjoying his accent and message. He helped found Oasis Trust and Stop the Traffik and was informative and funny. Steve’s message was on Genesis 1, on man and woman being made in the image of God — all men and all women — and that we have a responsibility to live that out today: to treat others as image-bearers, to give dignity and respect to everyone, to stop human trafficking.
Steve gave statistics on trafficking: human trafficking made more business that Microsoft last year, there are over 17,000 people trafficking every year in the United States primarily for the sex industry (which is probably a gross understatement, since no one puts “sex slave” on their census forms), 50% of worldwide trafficking is in children. It was enough to move me, but almost too much information to get me to act.
Then, Steve gave an action point. Which is nice. Or convicting.
He said that at least 12,000 kids have been trafficked into the Ivory Coast from Mali and are working as slaves. A little research of my own shows that 284,000 kids are working in the Ivory Coast and other African farms in hazardous conditions. The trafficked kids, the other children in hazardous conditions all work on cocoa farms, where we get our chocolate. About 43% of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast.
I think about my chocolate chip cookie today. Maybe the cocoa was picked by enslaved children. Maybe it was picked by children period. Maybe not — but I’m sure that some of my chocolate has been.
What to do? Only eat fair trade chocolate. As consumers, we vote with our wallets. When William Wilberforce fought to stop the slave trade in England, he encouraged everyone to stop eating sugar and show the plantation owners that they cannot hold slaves. Today, we must do the same: stop eating chocolate that we cannot account for and eat only chocolate with the logo on this page.
I want to make a difference with the way I spend my money. I want to communicate that everyone is made in the image of God. I want to live this way all the time, even when I’m eating a serendipitous chocolate chip cookie in the middle of a Friday.