We just participated in the annual Fair Trade Federation conference, joining colleagues working in fair trade across the globe. This is a generous group, sharing stories, best practices, challenges. We turn to one another for support and find inspiration. There's a deep sense of homecoming and connection when we gather. So finding the marker shown above, which was on the street corner by our hotel, reinforced this sense of family and inter-connectedness.
At this corner, American monk, mystic and social activist Thomas Merton had a vision, which he described in "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander":
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud... As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Fair trade certainly seems a manifestation of and opportunity for this connectedness that Merton describes.