I hope you’re not drinking a cup of coffee right now. If you are, it may not taste as good by the end of this paragraph. Did you know that most coffee sells for a much lower price than the cost of production? If that fact has an impersonal, financial ring to it, here’s what it looks like in reality: Tatu Maseyni, a mother in Tanzania with six children, made $15 for her entire yearly crop of coffee. In the book, Everyday Justice, Julie Clawson explores how our daily decisions affect people like Tatu Maseyni. Everyday Justice gives a basic overview of topics like oil consumption, sweatshops, eating ethically, and modern day slavery.
After waking up, most of us get dressed, eat something, drive somewhere, and at some point during the day, we throw something away. These are things we typically have to do, but Julie Clawson helps us examine how we do them. She explains the global consequences of our daily actions. In a conversational and matter of fact tone, she reveals the connection between chocolate and slavery, refugees from Bangladesh and filling our car with gas, tomatoes and abused workers in Florida. While Clawson exposes overwhelming injustices, she doesn’t leave her reader in a hopelessly shocked state. She breaks down the issues by explaining the causes, which often involve a brief history lesson in some sort of international economic policy. She then gives a biblical basis for why we should car about each specific issue and continues with ideas on how we can make the most loving, ethical decisions.
I appreciate the accessible tone of the book. I think it would be appropriate and enjoyable reading for students in high school too. Clawson gives a broad overview of each topic and makes it personal. She shows us that we don’t have to be extremists to be a part of reversing these injustices. We can simply choose to make choices each day with an awareness of others, like Tatu Maseyni. When we purchase fair trade coffee, a pretty simple decision made in the grocery store aisle, we are choosing to give farmers a fair price for their work, instead of saving ourselves two dollars. If you look really hard, you may even be able to find a couple dollars in your sofa cushions, but that would be 13% of Tatu’s yearly income.
To read more ways to live out social justice in your daily life, check out http://www.dosmallthings.com.