Left Justified: How to mix Interfaith, Turkey Day and immigration together?

By Stanley Campbell

My last column spoke in favor of opening the flood gates and letting in all who wish to immigrate to America. And why not? Capital flows to wherever it makes the most money: it’s called “free trade.” Why not people?

If there was more “fair trade” (treating the workers fairly, not harming the environment), there would be fewer illegal immigrants streaming into the U.S., and we might consider moving to Guatemala or southern Mexico.

I invited you to join me to “Welcome the Immigrant,” which is the title of our Thursday, Nov. 17, program (hosted at Christ United Methodist Church, 4509 Highcrest Road).

The 7 p.m. program with Josh Hoyt, director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, is free and open to the public. Josh is the expert on immigration issues, and he has helped to make Illinois one of the more immigrant-friendly states in the U.S.

Anyway, I remind you that the native peoples welcomed our ancestors at the first Thanksgiving meal so long ago, and we should be as generous to future immigrants to this great land.

For what do we have to be thankful? The economy is still in the toilet and the war in Afghanistan is never-ending. Global warming is getting warmer, and the electric grid is falling apart. But let’s be thankful for some things …

People are giving more to charity while bringing home less in paychecks. The CROP Hunger Walk raised more than $43,000 this last October (way to go, Dave, Bob and Walk organizers!). That money will be shared with overseas relief programs and local food pantries.

I’m thankful Frank Schier, editor and publisher, still publishes my column here in The Rock River Times. My family is healthy, as am I. Thank God.

If you’d like to give thanks, the Mayor’s Interfaith Thanksgiving service is this Sunday, Nov. 20, beginning at 3 p.m. at Rockford College’s Fisher Chapel. Paul Logli, director of the local United Way, will speak to our duty to help feed the hungry. And it’s good to see people of different religions praying together.

The day after Thanksgiving, Americans participate in their real religion: shopping! The malls are the cathedrals. But Americans have more power than realized. We vote for leaders, and we can vote for our ideals in the marketplace. I’ve said this before: What we buy determines how the rest of the world lives. Ask if those products are made in a sweatshop or prison camp. Don’t buy a present for which someone died in the making.

I invite you to buy “fair trade” products. Fair trade means the items came from a cooperative workplace where people receive a decent wage, the environment is not harmed, and working conditions don’t kill anyone.

Look for fair-traders like SERRV and “10,000 Villages,” and shop church bazaars and rummage sales (they help raise funds for worthwhile projects and have great prices).

My favorite is JustGoods fair trade store at 201 Seventh St. (open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays, for your holiday shopping pleasure). It is nonprofit and sells fairly-traded gifts — the best of both worlds. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you share some thoughts for a better Rockford — and a better world.

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

From the Nov. 16-22, 2011, issue

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