Left Justified: Chocolate temptations

By Stanley Campbell

Valentine’s Day elicits thoughts of love, letters, fine food and romantic evenings. And chocolate! Deep, dark, rich, sweet chocolate. The nectar of the gods, and the fattening of the bellies.

I’m not sure if love can be celebrated in the midst of a war on terror, but in our personal lives, I hope we try to attain the ultimate tranquility that I believe our God calls us to.

As a political commentator, I sometimes find myself using sarcasm, snide remarks and unlovely attacks. I hereby publicly apologize, and in the spirit of St. Valentine, ask for forgiveness.

For all of you, I wish a weekend of love, and here are ways to make it easier to celebrate.

Monday, Feb. 14, Rockford Peace & Justice is co-sponsoring a peace program with free “fair trade” chocolate. We’ll share songs, readings and poems about love.

David Stocker will provide the live music. Local poet Christine Swanberg will read her lovely poetry, often printed here in The Rock River Times. A tasting of samples of fair-trade chocolate from JustGoods, the fair trade store (they are hosting the affair, 201 Seventh St., use the west entrance), will also be included.

At 7:30 p.m., the film The Dark Side of Chocolate will be shown. It is a documentary about the trafficking of child labor in the international chocolate industry. While we enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, the reality is strikingly different for African children.

In 2001, consumers around the world were outraged to discover child labor and slavery, trafficking and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed.

Fair trade ensures no child slavery, and the farmers are treated fairly. For more information, please call me at (815) 964-7111

This has become a Valentine’s Day tradition.

Some philosophers say love should start with the individual. If two people cannot get along, how can two countries? On the other hand, if war exists, doesn’t that disrupt individuals’ lives? It’s a chicken-and-egg question. Does world peace bring about individual love? I think the answer lies in doing both: working for a harmonious lifestyle and, at the same time, trying to talk your government out of blowing someone else up.

St. Valentine wrote letters while in jail. His missives brought love in other people’s hearts even though he was suffering imprisonment. I’d like to suggest we write letters. Valentine cards are the response.

Progressive Meetup and the Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee are hosting this Fair Trade Chocolate Love for Peace Valentine’s Day Program Monday, Feb. 14, beginning at 7 p.m.

A free-will offering will get you free chocolate samples, poetry, music and a film about…chocolate!

A handwritten note sent through “snail mail” is just as good, if not better, than something store-bought, or even purchased for a good cause. Taking the time to write to a loved one, a family member, friend or an acquaintance who needs a little support, is the least we can do as human beings.

Especially writing to our Congressman!

But I also urge you to send love toward someone you may have had a fight with, an enemy, or just a disagreeable person. Maybe your love will be the tipping point that brings about world peace. We can only hope. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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