“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
We got some new Gevalia in the mail the other day, so Mom and I are having fresh coffee this afternoon. That will surely keep me up ’til 3:00 a.m.! It is seemingly just a hot beverage, but apparently there is much more to it than that. It took the kids to Starbucks the other day, and was struck by the amount of political propaganda tastefully littered about the store. It was plain to me that I should not just sit in peace sipping my Mocha Frappacino, I must mnake somepledge to buy some CD or mug that would promote world peace and feed those starving amongst the coffee beans of Africa and Columbian. It would be selfish and somehow sinful of me to merely pay for my drink and then just. . . drink it. Action must be taken!! (Good thing coffee supplies me with caffeine, otherwise my quest for world liberation might be slowed by sluggish American thinking!)
Yes, coffee is an import. It comes mostly from impoverished 3rd World countries whose politics and living conditions are nothing short of abominable. Yet we import wine, and for some reason, when I walk into a wine cellar, all I see is, well, wine! I do not get the same feeling of “Quick! We must all join hands in worldwide harmony and help our brothers and sisters who are being enslaved and abused in some far off tropical jungle!” Do wine connoisseurs not feel the same obligation to their less fortunate brothers and sisters slaving away in some vineyard in the south of France? Or is it that those of us who can better afford coffee than wine are more likely to care about the issues of African coffee growers? And isn’t it the Coffee Crowd who gets so bent out of shape and starts putting anti-war bumperstickers on their cars when our government does exactly what the coffee house politicos propose, and sends troops over to some country to free those who are enslaved and bestow them with their inalienable rights of freedom and coffee?
Dont get me wrong. I am all about peace, love and happiness. But I think we need to be realistic. The brutal fact of the matter is that vicious sociopathic dictators who are willing to starve, rape and pillage their own people don’t speak ‘peace, love, and happiness’. They speak violence. And they have a nasty habit of expressing their violence toward those who try to meet the basic needs of their people with food and medical care. (ie: they kill them!) We cannot communicate with them by gently explaining that their methods are unacceptable, and that they should simply congregate in coffee houses and discuss things.
So, then we have quite the dilemma. Do we ignore the fact that millions of human beings are being brutally murdered and exploited, or do we do something? And if we agree that doing something is the correct thing, then what, exactly, do we do? And how do we manage to convince those evil dictators to let us do it?
It seems to me that whatever course of action is decided upon, it should be effective. And somehow, buying CDs or coffee mugs simply doesn’t seem like it will accomplish much. Unless some sort of collective American Guilt is the goal. We can all sit around sipping our Lattes and feeling guilty that we have the freedom to choose whether we need single, double or triple shots. We can wear funny hats and hiking pants with carelessly slung backpacks and earthy sandals, and at least look like we are politically concerned.
Or we can start in our own living rooms, and love one another. We can stop, just for a few moments each day, and really listen to what our family and friends are saying. We can choose to smile at the harried clerk in the grocery store checkout line, or let someone pull into traffic in front of us after a long day when we really just want to get home. We could stop spending all our money on Coffee House Cds, Birkenstocks and “Life Is Good” t-shirts, and send some of it directly to organizations that actually feed starving children or provide the dying with dignity.
And, if we want to get honest about it, we could admit that none of those things will be effective unless there is somebody to protect those who are there to help, to make a difference. We could make the ultimate sacrifice, and enlist. We could go to any length to share our way of life with those who didn’t even know they were in need of a coffee house. We could actually put a force behind our pithy ideals and agendas, by physically going over there and stopping the bad guys.
Or maybe we should all just switch to wine. I recommend a fruity merlot.