Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Perfection Can Become The Enemy of Good"

Tonight, Holly and I headed into the City for some dinner and a film screening of a new documentary entitled Buyer, Be Fair! It dealt with fair trade (and unfair trade) in the coffee and logging industries. Very informative film.

I have been a fan of FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED coffees for some time and most love Café Mam. But I have had people question the whole FAIR TRADE label...and I've wondered along with them about the 'dues' that small farmers have to pay and also about the systemic issues that sometimes do not get addressed. Still, I have found it to be a hopeful system (FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED, that is), and so I continue to support it. (BTW, here is a list of San Francisco FAIR TRADE stores if you want to support what they're doing.

The filmmaker was there tonight for Q & A afterwards, and so I asked him about this. He responded that certainly there were problems with certifying things and not being legalistic about it. Still, he felt that FAIR TRADE was doing a great job at being an independent certifier. A farmer from Peru was there as well. He said that it has tremendously helped his 2000+ farmer co-op. It has helped them rise above poverty, get clean water, and have a more hopeful future.

The filmmaker went on to say that often our perception of what is perfect becomes the enemy of something good. Well said. Man, as an idealist, I get so caught up in the best and look past things that could be good. Perhaps I even use some self-righteous, elite word like settling when referring to something like this.

I am constantly reminded that the Kingdom of God goes where there is goodness, not perfection. So let's champion the good (but often broken) things in our world. Or am I totally contradicting myself here?


lisa said...

This may be a relatively knew phenomenon. Uncle Tom's Cabin freed a people. Of course, not on it's own. But nothing, devoid of relationship, is capable of that. Not books, music, film or art. But I don't know if this speaks more of a lack of potential for these mediums to affect people as it does that these days, people don't trust much of anything, anything but people who have proven themselves to be true. And then, perhaps waiting for the other shoe to drop?

But all changes start as ideas and part of what makes us human is the expressing of these ideas in whatever way God has designed us to do so.

lisa said...

Knew? I meant "new"! Egads.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

So, this is Lisa's comment on a blog entry that I erased. Thank you Lisa for your thoughts. I am not sure whether I erased the blog entry on purpose or not.

Jeremy said...

You speak a common theme in the coffee industry. In fact, there are a number of roasteries/buyers that are trying to emphasize the "fair" in fair trade by working directly with farmers (bypassing co-ops). I'll throw out some links to a recent NYT article about Intelligensia in Chicago & some dialog around fair trade and "sourcing" in the coffee industry for anyone who cares.

Your statement to champion the goodness in the world despite it's brokenness is spot on... to me this is another way to practically seek justice in a broken world.

In the case of coffee, you should try to buy Fair Trade any time you can. You are improving the life of the farmers and getting a better product in the process.

The NYT Article:

A good follow-up in Reason:

Some coffee folks diablog:

aurora bender said...

seeking goodness instead of what is best has been coming up a lot for me since the fourth.

and i agree, we should try to buy fair trade, not just coffee. at work we have a couple of fair trade coffees and I wonder (and hope) the rest of the farmers for all the others also get paid fairly.

i greatly look forward to you two moving to the city soon. i am moving in august too. to the flat below the scandrette's.

Unknown said...

I can't agree more. This past year has really opened my eyes to the brokenness in this world, in myself and in people I never thought could be broken. I highly admire your pursuit of seeking to build a better world:) I think this is the gospel Jesus was talking about:)

So when I was overseas in Italy my i-pod broke, and I had to get a new one when I got back to the States meaning I lost your music for, but I just got back home to N.Ireland this week and got all my music back:) I'm really realting to the songs more and more, they are really becoming a comfort to me right now as I am feeling all these crazy emotions being back home after being away for so long. It's proving difficult to adjust to life back in the emerald isle, for all of the US's screwups, I still LOVE the place to bits, I think I was made for it somehow:)

Anywho hope all is well in the west coast for you and Holly.