I believe in inner change so that outer action can be best expressed. If we want to change the world, as Mahatma Ghandi stated, then we better begin with ourselves. So let talk fair trade. No, not the organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers (often in developing countries and emerging economies) make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Rather, what I want to highlight is the fairness and balance of energy exchange that is being traded around nowadays. While we trade physical things, we are all also involved with subtle trading of the intangibles such as our thoughts, emotions and concepts. If tangible fair trade movement is about making sure each party gets a fair share of their payment for the commodity, then energetic fair trade means each party must also get a balanced and fair share of the energies being sent out and received.
We take for granted that stealing refers only to material things. Yet, what we see a lot of in life is that stealing can also mean stealing another person's energy (as in becoming an energy vampire to suck out another person's positive energy so we can feel better), or stealing someone's time when we know someone is waiting and we were the ones late, or even when we are insensitive to the state of another person and we "steal" their healing time for their own health, leisure or family when we demand unreasonable things. This latter one highlights the demanding bratty personalities who expect everyone to cater to their often unreasonable and selfish whims, thus causing undue stress. Another form of stealing has something to do with intellectual property, in that we may also be stealing another person's ideas if we pass it off as your own. While we know no one can really be that original nowadays, we need to be honest about the sources of our influences and ideas especially when we present this to the public.
This one-way "stealing" process can also be seen in how we consume things. Or what things consume us. It is a universal law that what we give out comes back to us (law of karma), or what we take we need to return in some form or another. We need to consider how to give back the appropriate energy or amount either to that other person or release it through another form or act of goodness, kindness or service just to balance the "universal ledger." Energetically and karmically, there is a need to strive for balance. Just taking and taking will create an imbalance.
A perfect example of this selfish act of taking and taking is now reflected in the state of our world today: pollution, nature coming back at us through natural disasters, climate changes and global warming, plus poverty and hunger at such massive levels in the world. All these stare us straight in the face, and we would really be dense if we cannot see the selfishness in this picture. We are coming into a sleepy awakening, slow though it is, and there is now the beginning of understanding that we are all interconnected. If we take something, we need to give back or we are adding to the creation of this not-so-very-nice picture of a chaotic reeling world we are in today. Whatever we receive is taken from somewhere else. It is because of this inter-connectiveness that such buzzwords and phrases are coming about to define new energetic sharing levels for our physical world: conscious consumerism, sustainable practices, corporate social responsibility, global diversity in our human commonality, ethical fashion and yes, fair trade. Lets not forget the new tools of technology and social media already present to make us all come together to connect, police, reflect, share and cooperate.
There are all these subtle levels of energies of giving and taking that we must mind our thoughts (judgments or positive, creative thinking), our actions (reactions or aware actions), our words (verbal rebuttals or kind words that can heal?). The energies around today are so erratic. Isn't everything going so fast that we feel we need to run to keep up with everyday life? Everything seems to be demanding of our attention -- work, relationships and family, downtime, intellectual and spiritual pursuits, creative expression... all these compiled in our own individual lists that define what we want in our life, and how we strive to balance it.
At the root of this "fair trade" issue is really a sensitivity to knowing what we need and refraining from desiring more and more when the need has been met. And this can be as mundane as that shopping spree we can do without, or as subtle as demanding for time from another who we know cannot give it. Respect the energy and time of others. All these can be called fair trade.
We can also approach to the energy exchange from a more proactive perspective. We can help build the world's kindness reserves by giving "credit to the universe" as we give more than we take. This is service. Either in action, in our choices of what we need and want, or in the silence and positive vibrations of our personal energy that we extend.
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