Spurred by my desire for the world to be a better place (!) yesterday I cycled up to Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, to be part of the IF campaign service. The IF campaign was set up by several charities to put pressure on the G8 to commit to fair treatment of the world’s poor. The G8 is an annual meeting of leaders of the world’s richest countries who discuss world issues such as climate change and economies. IF’s long-term passion is to eradicate hunger entirely.
Singing “Be Though My Vision” it was moving and uplifting to look around and know that 2200 people (not including those in overflow rooms/churches/greenspaces) were longing for the same goal. Later 45000 people heard Rowan Williams and Bill Gates talk in Hyde Park. We were reminded of the 4 aims : shutting down tax avoidance (developing countries lose three times the amount of money in tax each year that they receive in aid); stopping landgrabs (where people’s land is forcibly taken with the unfulfilled promise of compensation); aid (only the UK has kept its promise to give 0.7% of national income); transparency in dealings (so that people are not deprived of appropriate remuneration and governments use their earnings to prioritise people above e.g. warfare). The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols spoke of the people of God being in an especially important position, that through prayer and honouring the sanctity of God’s creation – His earth and people – we could bring about equality in the resources given us. He ended by reinforcing the idea that the poor are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The songs were beautifully chosen. We also sang “Here I am, Lord” and “Tell Out My Soul”. Thankfully they were all ones that we sing at St.John’s! Perhaps next time we sing these we can think especially of what the lyrics mean for us in relation to those we depend on for what we consume.
Aimee Manimani, World Vision representative from the Democratic Republic of Congo gave an example of the exploitation she deals with daily. Pascal, who is 10, feels there is no option to support his family except by working in a gold mine many miles from home. He does not know the value of gold so sells it very cheaply so that he has enough for food. His life is not ambitions, like our young children’s, but unhappy stasis. ”Landgrabs” mean that people across the developing nations see the earth that provided their sustenance turned into biofuel fields. This forces them to buy food in unstable markets where prices can limit what they can afford to nothing at all.
Pressure on the G8 is a start but we have potential to change the world ourselves! It might appear that against corporations’ huge financial and lobbying power we can do very little but companies depend on us as consumers to provide their wealth. If we limit that they have nothing to profiteer with and will have to rethink how they treat the people who ultimately provide for them. In these days of international sourcing we can effect change for those whose countries we might never see, simply by thinking about what we buy. We can do this on a daily basis - we can buy fairly traded, organic, recycled; we can look at (e.g. via Google or Ethical Consumer) whether companies use tax havens or have an ethical sourcing policy. If we only supported (as much as possible as I know finances are stretched these days) those companies who treat the earth and its people unfairly the commercial world really would change.
10 days of G8 meetings have begun. Yesterday David Cameron hosted a “hunger summit’ in London and the summit of G8 meetings is held in Enniskillen on 17th and 18th June. Please pray that these leaders will exemplify God’s will to His people and that we can see the end of global poverty and hunger.