Recently Craig posted on the experience of eating his first faitrade Kitkat (here). Yesterday I went out and bought one too. Not having eaten one in, ooh, fifteen years or more, I'm not sure I correctly recalled the taste, but it was fine.
Craig was wrestling with the morality of eating this Kitkat, after all, Nestle have not abandoned all their practices that caused people to 'boycott' them in the first place. Should we reward their good behaviour when they are still doing things we perceive as bad? Comments on his blog varied.
So what do I think?
I think it is complicated (my usual answer to everything!) and that there is no precise answer to this. I choose to buy Fairtrade products where I can but recognise that even that choice impacts those who produce the 'not Fairtrade' products I am not buying. I choose to buy 'Farm Assured' products, look for 'Rain Forest Alliance' or 'Dolphin Friendly' or 'Free Range' labels on products but at the same time am oblivious to the ethical practices of the majority of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. I like BOGOF and 2 for 3 offers, but am aware that someone, somewhere has to pay for these (and the share holder it isn't). Retail staff rarely get paid much over minimum wage. Small suppliers struggle to win and then retain contracts with the giants. If we want to go down the 'punish everyone for everything they do wrong' route we aren't going to be buying much at all - with inevitable consequences for our own comfy lifestyles.
On balance, I think it is right to reward the good behaviour. After all, that is how we want to be treated ourselves. "Whoever claims to have no sin deceives themselves" so the Good Book says, and it's true. We are all a 'work in progress.' Part of the mystery of what we believe as Christians is that at Calvary atonement was accomplished, yet the transformation of our lives is ongoing.
Nestle haven't got everything right, and it is important that people go one encouraging and cajoling them to change what is wrong, but they have got something right and they should be rewarded for that. It is so easy for us to criticise their practices, but what actually are we doing to overcome the problems of accessible clean water in African nations? How much do we really know about the situation, and how much do we just jump on a judgemental bandwagon?
Forgive us our sins as we forgive... dare we really pray this?