The Quaker Worship Group of Homer (Friends) supports the "Hold the Vision" Peace with Justice walk here in Homer on Tuesday. This local event is being held at the same time as representatives of the G-8 nations meet in Kananaskis Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada starting June 26. While the setting may be "hidden away," the decisions made at this meeting will most assuredly affect our entire planet. Quakers have a long tradition supporting equity and integrity in trade relationships.
Our congregation continues to believe that fair open trade is a healthy way to realize the full promise of economic exchange. We hold that those involved in international trade should meet regularly in open forums to discuss existing practices, to evaluate new technologies and to address the many concerns which transcend international borders. We call the G-8 participants, and in particular the influential U.S. delegation, to take into account issues which will always be connected to economic progress. These issues include an intact and sustainable environment, matters of religious and cultural tradition, the rights of those whose labor produces wealth and concerns regarding a high standard of public health.
We urge the G-8 nations to address these basic democratic questions: Do those most in need of the benefits of trade gain equitably in the opening of new markets? What combination of technical, political and social criteria will be reflected in the rules and the settlement of disputes? What steps may local and national governments take to protect the natural environment and the health and well-being of their own people?
We support the ongoing rich and complex discussions involving governments, trade union movements, business groups and civil society about fair trade. Multi-lateral organizations and forums also raise the core questions of what kind of world we will have in this century: A world built on principles of justice, equity, and respect for the earth and space we share? Or one with widening gaps between rich and poor within and between nations?
We know that these concerns can seem distant to some here in Homer. It is a fact, however, that trade decisions made by a few powerful nations have had and will continue to have an impact on this region. G-8 actions will affect us not just as Alaskans but also as members of a World family.
Bill Schoder-Ehri, for The Homer Worship Group of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)