Confession: I cried in the middle of the Easter aisle at Walgreens yesterday.
Why? Because I live in a really screwed up country. Here, just a few short weeks ago, Christians raised up an army of protest against World Vision when they changed their employment policy to include the hiring of gay Christians. There was an outrage: people pulled their sponsorships, organizations threatened to pull funding. World Vision had no choice but to cave if they wanted to continue to help children.
My tears weren't because of that, however (at least not yesterday). I was sad and upset because that same group of folks are going to flock en-mass to stores over the next week and buy up lots of lovely chocolate to put in Easter baskets for their children to celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection. Arguably, the most important holiday in the Christian faith. And those chocolate bunnies? Made from cocoa beans harvested by slaves. Most likely child slaves.
Where is the outrage? Why is the Christian community not up in arms over this? Why aren't we storming the gates at Hershey's telling them we will no longer support their use of child slavery? The companies know about it (you can read more here and find some links).
Y'all. I am wrecked over this. Wrecked. I can honestly tell you I haven't been able to buy a bar of chocolate that wasn't fair-trade (or responsibly-sourced) in years. I can't do it. I love twix and kit kats. Love 'em. And sometimes I look longingly at them in the checkout aisle. But then I remember where they came from. I can't do it.
If the thought of two women getting married makes you more upset than the thought of children trafficked, stolen from their families, and forced to work hard manual labor day after day SOMETHING IS WRONG.
I know lots of people don't know. That's why I spread the word. But you know what? Christians were awfully quick to spread the word about World Vision's decision. Articles were posted, shared, tweeted all over the place. Radio stations talked about it on the air. I KNOW that some of the folks who were so quick to share that info also know about what's going on with our chocolate. Why aren't we raising our voices together to bring peace, to fight for the oppressed, to work for the least of these?
Easter is the celebration of life. Jesus said he came to give us life, life to the full, abundantly (John 10:10). He stepped out of heaven, lived among us, and sacrificed himself to reconcile us back to God. And then as if that wasn't enough, defeated death and rose again. My life with Jesus is exactly that: abundant, joyful, peaceful, amazing. How ironic that the Easter celebration of life is one of times of the year when we make our largest chocolate purchases from companies who use child slavery.
Imagine how you put your child to bed the night before Easter. You read a book, make sure they've gotten their teeth brushed, tuck them in, maybe even lie down for a snuggle. You pray together, then you turn on the music, turn on the nightlight. Make sure everything is just so. Contrast that with the life of the child who had to harvest those cocoa beans: thin blanket (if any), no parents to tuck them in, fresh bruises from a beating from not working hard enough, no books (no education!). Is this how we want to celebrate Easter?
We can band together - use our voices for good! What if we shared the message about how our purchases for Easter can bring life instead of chains? What if we refuse to indulge in luxuries that require oppression to create?
Before you buy your Easter candy, please check the labels! If it says "Fair-Trade," you are all set! Or look for the words "responsibly-sourced" or "ethically-sourced." If you can't find those, organic chocolate is the next best choice.
Where can you find it? EarthFare is a great place. I got my kiddos some chocolate Easter Bunnies there. Some grocery stores carry chocolate bars too - look in the candy aisle. If you can't find anything else, I believe Dove Dark Chocolate (dark only), is sustainably-sourced.
"But that ruins our tradition," I hear you say. "My kids so look forward to their Cadbury Eggs every year" or "that fair-trade stuff doesn't come in cute Easter packaging." Can you say that out loud to yourself again? When we focus on that stuff, we are saying our preferences are more important than a child's freedom. Make a new tradition. Kids are resilient. Tell your kids that Jesus loves them AND he loves the children who were forced to harvest the chocolate. Heck, tell them the Easter Bunny just realized what he's been doing and he's decided he's only bringing your family fair-trade chocolate. Whatever. My kids are aware of the child-slavery issue and they've told me that they don't want to eat chocolate made by kids just like them who don't get to go to school or see their parents ever again. Give your kids a chance to shine!
"But that fair-trade chocolate stuff is so much more expensive." I hear you, too. But you know what? The other stuff is cheap because it was harvested by kids who were trafficked and aren't being paid. Easter baskets are a luxury. If you have to spend more on the chocolate, buy less chocolate. Or tone down on the other "presents" in the Easter Baskets (when did Easter become Christmas-take-two, by the way?).
Y'all, there are zero good reasons I can come up with for why we would buy regular chocolate this Easter. Please join me and have a sweet, sweet Easter this year!
And... one more plug for the movie we are hosting... want to know more about ways our purchases might be inadvertently supporting slavery or unsustainable work conditions world-wide? And about what we can do about it? Come see Stand with Me with us on April 21st! Tickets must be purchased HERE