SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

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  • Week of 11/19DateWed Nov 20, 2013 9:01 am
    Blog post by smurray

    Text 1:

    Quote 1: "“There is no hope of immortality through riches.”

    Response: This is such a good quote because it is true without anyone being able to dispute it. It's true. We all die and become equal in death, this may be morbid but it's true. Whether or not one believes in an afterlife is their business, however, there is a lot of merit in living the best life that you can live while here on this earth because you don't know where you will go after that. And everyone knows in their heart what is ethical and what is not, so following that instead of money is definitely important.

    Quote 2: "It is clear from this that rites cannot lead to Freedom. Therefore let the wise one strive after Freedom, giving up all longing for sensual self-indulgence; approaching the good, great Teacher (the Higher Self), with soul intent on the object of the teaching"

    Response: Who is a good teacher? We argued this in class, but in this quote the best teacher is the higher self. What is the higher self? In my mind it is the best possible version of ourselves that will never be truly attainable but is always what we strive to become. We all have this person in our heads, and some get much closer than others. In my mind, the people who get the closest live the best lives and according to the quote, they are also more free.

    Text 2:

    Quote: "The advertising industry exists primarily to stimulate these desires and in some cases to invent them whole out of cloth"

    Response: As someone going into advertising this is a sad truth. It is very manipulative and many times advertising creates insecurities that weren't there before. Like body hair- Nair wasn't needed in the past but now the message that is sent is that if you are hairy at all men will find you unattractive. Humans have hair. It's ridiculous.

  • Building on FaithDateTue Nov 12, 2013 10:40 am
    Blog post by smurray

    Quote 1: "The core of this faith is the belief that there is great love at work in the universe that seeks justice, mercy, peace, and joy. Our various faith traditions and practices teach us how to stay open to that love, tap into it, align ourselves with it, and be empowered by it."

    Response 1:Faith is something that makes me tense up in class when it is brought up. I am not a religious person at all. But I really love this description of faith because it is something that I can identify with. The idea of justice, mercy, peace, and joy is something that sounds good to anyone. I think we are meant to seek these things, and to better the world around us. I am not sold on the traditions and practices being necessary to keep these values, but I think that they don't hurt anyone who attends them.

    Quote 2: "Our tagline at the Trinity Boston Foundation is 'Together, let's change the odds.' But unless we get the 'together' right, there's no way we will succeed."

    Response 2: Many people blogged about the Trinity Boston Foundation. The idea of a community and especially the word "unity" really speaks to me. I have written quite a few times about humans needing community as part of our nature. I love the idea of people really getting together and genuinely wanting to help. This was really the feeling I got from the feature about the Trinity Boson Foundation.

  • Downward MobilityDateTue Nov 05, 2013 9:28 am
    Blog post by smurray

    “We have a deep need to belong, to feel that we are valuable and our lives are worthwhile”


    I think that this need is inherent to us, and me being an unreligious person I have to agree. This need is something that is a part of human nature and is part of evolution. Our need to belong is caused by our survival instinct. We have a better chance of survival in a pack. This is similar to us wanting to find the best possible mate so that we can reproduce and pass on our genes that will have the best chance of surviving and passing on their genes. It is because of our survival instinct that we feel this need to belong, not that we feel valuable, though society makes us feel like the two are correlated.



    “Our desires are stimulated and shaped by social rivalry.”


    This is very similar to the one above, but I really like the point. However, I have some problems with it. What I stated above is that our major NEEDS, the need to belong, the need to reproduce, etc. are evolutionary. These needs are different from our desires, which are more likely to be material things. However, to fine the best possible mate as stated in #1, we must distinguish ourselves from everyone else. We do this by appearing prettier, skinnier, wealthier, cooler, etc. Businesses know this and create a need for specific “status” objects so that we will feel like we need them to prove ourselves and they will make more money. This is true with almost everything we buy, from designer purses to vintage comic books. It fits with every niche and socio-economic background. These become our desires. The material things but also the desire for wealth and self-improvement.

  • The Story of StuffDateWed Oct 23, 2013 7:57 am
    Blog post by smurray

    Actual Text: I'd like to comment on the video as a whole

    Response: I saw this video in high school. The class was about sustainability so there was a different discussion following it, but I think that both discussions are important to have. Leonard's argument brings about an alarming point. As always with our readings, I'm struck with the concern: what do I do about it? I really enjoy it because it is simple to understand and makes anyone see that the system is flawed. My favorite part of the video was the focus on the SYSTEM as a whole that needs to change, rather than the margins which is generally the focus of fair trade. I like that we are starting to look at the bigger picture.

    Actual text: Our consumer ways are cyclical.

    Response: This is very true in terms of the culture of the United States. I think this was my favorite point. Talking about the culture of the new generation is a favorite past time, but we have to take a look at what we are doing with are lives. I believe that our consumerism is a result of greed and boredom. We don't need to focus on basic necessities, so we focus on making everything easier for ourselves with STUFF. But also with art, and fashion, and food, and music, etc. etc. etc. It's not all bad, but we have the ability to focus on these things because everything else is taken care of for the most part. But we should also be focusing on the people that don't have their basic needs taken care of.

  • Week 6: Dollars, Sense and DignityDateWed Oct 16, 2013 3:34 am
    Blog post by smurray

    Quote #1: "CBS news presented the case for my work extremely well. The research showed that, for every person we provide services, we were saving the Medicaid budget $18,000 per year."

    Response to #1: I am definitely much more motivated by practicality, and this article did a very good job convincing me that Mia would be more cost-efficient. It is a topic that everyone thinks of. Many people have older relatives that they would like to see in good living situations, or they think of their parents, or even themselves when they get older. It's certainly a topic that interests many, especially since the government takes money out of our paychecks for Social Security. Being able to see Bloomberg, CBS, etc. and some numbers made me feel more reassured that this idea could actually work.

    Quote #2: "The public also mistrusts corporate America.The good news about this has been an increased motivation on the part of corporations to engage with social service organizations and show their commitment toward the communities in which they operate."

    Response to #2: For some reason, I'm really in love with this quote. It is very truthful. Most people would agree that they don't trust corporate America. In fact, 99% of our Fair Trade would certainly agree with this because of all that is written about unfair wages and practices and that the CEOs make absurd amounts of money. But I really like that this author didn't try to say that huge corporations were good, but merely pointed out that there is a positive spin. Many companies do give a lot to charity and hold and sponsor events. Maybe the intention is public relations, and is not genuine, but intention doesn't matter much in the big picture if people are being helped.

  • Blog Post #5DateWed Oct 09, 2013 3:33 am
    Blog post by smurray

    Quote 1: Religious Values and Corporate Decision Making: The Economy of Communion Project” by Luigino Bruni
    "Over the years, what emerged from their lifestyle was not only a more equal distribution of goods, but also a profound cultural intuition- that the essence of human experience is to be "in communion.""

    Response to Quote 1:
    I really liked this quote because it describes fair trade perfectly, especially considering the "spirituality" portion of our class. Communion is of course a sacrament, but also something that is an inherent need in all of us. The need to be in communion with one another is something that everyone strives for, and is the basis of many advertisements. However, they call to our emotional need to belong by making us feel insecure. "We are not pretty enough, skinny enough, stylish enough to fit into society without product X." From a business standpoint, looking at fair trade as a sense of community appeals to that emotion without the negative qualities. It really is a "sellable" idea from a marketing standpoint. Bruni also is able to appeal to the spirituality portion with this phrase as well, which I think is a major intention because there are some bible quotes in the text, which I don't respond to as much as the appeal to the business and making money side.

    Quote 2: "Those who receive help are not considered "assisted" or "beneficiaries". Rather they are regarded as active participants in the project, all part of the same community, who also live the culture of giving. The emphasis is not on philanthropy, but on sharing, in that each person gives with equal dignity."

    Response to Quote 2:
    Isn't this the core belief of fair trade? "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime." Sometimes I get frustrated with fair trade because I feel like a lot of it is making consumers feel guilted into buying something just because it is "fair trade." But fair trade shouldn't be just about that it should be able making a product that is genuinely better than the competitors whether that's because it is more sturdy or beautiful or whatever. Fair trade should be (and I think is for the most part) about giving people in impoverished nations a chance to sell something great and be credited for it. It's an opportunity, and not everyone can be (or should be!) able to succeed if they aren't willing to work hard. They should be able to work as equals with everyone involved in the process. I think that being able to have a sense that they had to do something to get what they have makes everyone exponentially more excited to grow and prosper a business and get others involved as well.

  • Week 3- Why I am leaving Goldman-SachsDateWed Sep 25, 2013 3:34 am
    Blog post by smurray

    The major idea of the article was that the morality of Goldman- Sachs has diminished enough for a very influential employee to quit. Winerip argues that it wasn’t always like this but gives many examples of Goldman employees planning on ripping off their clients.

    Text 1: “What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.”

    Response: This stood out to me as a rather alarming statement. At Goldman you aren’t rewarded for doing the right thing, but rather doing a calculated process in which money is made quickly and unethically. While I can appreciate how this kind of viewpoint is toxic to employee morality and a company in general, I wish Winerip would talk about the alternatives. Some questions I have are “What are the other options for the company?” and “Are there any other companies in the same field that are acting more ethical?” In other words, if you graduated with a degree in finance where is a better place to work? What is Winerip going to do after quitting? Retire?

    Text 2:“It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.”

    Response: I really appreciate this line because I think it is so true. As someone who has worked in retail I’ve never told a customer that something looked great when in fact it doesn’t for the purpose of selling more. Maybe it is because I didn’t work on commission, maybe it was because I’d like to think I am an honest and moral person, and maybe it is because being nice to a customer and gaining their trust is the most effective way to get them to come back to the store.

  • Using Our Purchasing Power for Justice and HopeDateThu Sep 12, 2013 8:06 pm
    Blog post by smurray

    Although I am not a religious person, I am very familiar with the biblical texts from growing up in a religious household. I really appreciated the Global Outreach speaker in class and the distinction that she made between spirituality and religiousness. The thing that really stuck me on the disposable people website was the core beliefs, particularly the first one. “We believe in freedom for all individuals regardless of race, religion, gender, or age.” It is 2013. Isn’t this a fundamental belief that should be held by everyone at this point? Why are there so many people who don’t believe that everyone should have access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

    I think that the reading- Using Our Purchasing Power for Justice and Hope was very valuable to me even though I’m not religious. Many of the teachings of the bible, especially the quotes used in the reading are very valuable in teaching commonly held morals throughout the world. The one quote I could not get out of my head during class or the reading is "Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.” I really appreciated the quote that Fair trade is not about charity. It is a holistic approach to trade and development that aims to alter the ways in which commerce is conducted, so that trade can empower the poorest of the poor." I think the two quotes have a similar idea. It’s all well and good to give people money, but it is much more rewarding emotionally and it is much more long lasting to give people the opportunity to make their own living.

    One of my favorite things that my professor, Kate said in class was that she believed in transparency. Having transparency in a company is so important for the consumer’s trust that the price they are paying is going to the right things. Unfortunately, we have gotten used to a lack of transparency in everything we buy (including our college tuition!) I think that with the growing popularity of fair trade, the public will be more likely to turn to larger corporations and ask them what they’re up to and demand some transparency. Both of these readings really stood out to me to start questioning where I am getting my goods from and who is being affected by it. I am extremely thankful to be able to be in a Fair Trade class because if I was reading this at home I’d be moved and upset, but I wouldn’t know what to do about it. By educating ourselves on the statistics and being real about the amount of injustice surrounding the goods that we buy, we can educate others and I hope in this class we’ll be able to provide consumers with alternative goods and support the people who work hard to make them fairly.

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