Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Voting

October 2, 2016

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is an election year. That means we ought to spend some time thinking about voting; what it means and how we make decisions about candidates and issues.

There are a lot of things we could talk about, what do do when neither candidate is a good fit with what you believe, (fyi, get used to that, no candidate is ever a perfect fit), where to find accurate information about positions, does voting even matter.

But that’s not what this post is about. I want to consider who we vote for. I don’t mean which candidate we vote for. I mean who in our nation we vote for. Who is our primary concern as voters?

For years we have been encouraged to vote for our values. We have been asked “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Candidates assure us they are “fighting for you”. Most of us view voting as an action mostly concerned with our personal well being. Will candidate X be good for me?

As a Christian I think the question should be “Will candidate X be good for others?” By others I mean the marginalized of society. How will the poor, the ill, the disabled, the unemployed, the immigrant, the prisoner fare with this candidate.

My vote should not be about me. My vote should be for others. As a Christian, “what’s in it for me?” is not a question I ought to be asking.

I think about food insecure college students I know. I think about the LGBTQA+ community. I think about young black men. I think about the mentally and physically ill.

Do I know what is best for all these groups? Of course not. But I do know some things that are good for them. Safety, decent housing, adequate food, equal opportunity. So I ask myself, which candidate will work for these things?

One of the grand themes of the Bible is God’s concern for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Those, in ancient times, were the oppressed and suffering groups. From Cain’s rhetorical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”,  to when Abram was blessed to be a blessing, to  Torah,  to the prophets, to Jesus, to Paul and John and the faithful since then, we are to be  our brother’s keeper, a blessing, concerned for the poor, suffering, and marginalized.

One of the ways we do this as people living in the United States is by how we vote. Not my values, not my self interest. God’s values and God’s interest.

Before you step into the voting booth this November, from the top of the ticket to the bottom, think about what you vote means. Who’s interests, who’s well being, who’s future are you voting for?

This Little Sign of Mine

August 14, 2016

blacklivesmatterI have a “Black Lives Matter” sign in my front yard. It’s been there about 6-7 months now. As far as I know, my sign has not had any effect on any passers by. When I’m out in the yard, people walking by don’t comment. I wonder if they even see it?

On these long, hot summer days I wonder why I keep my sign up? Can a yard sign do any actual good? Does a sign change anything?

Certainly not in any major sense. It’s just a sign in a neighborhood. It’s not even on a main road.

Does my sign just make me feel better? Does it make me feel as if I am doing “something”? Not really. Mostly it makes me feel as if I’m not doing anything. I picked up a sign at church, brought it home, and stuck it in my yard.  A yard sign is hardly a risky or daring thing to do.  Honestly I wonder, is it possible to do less?

Whether my little sign  pricks the conscience of anyone, at the very least, my little sign keeps me uncomfortable. It reminds me to pay attention. It reminds me to keep thinking and learning about white privilege and the multiple ways I consciously and unconsciously benefit from it.

Sometimes when I come home and see my little sign, I remember Jesus’ words about how even a glass of water matters. I recall parables about a mustard seed and hidden yeast.Perhaps small actions can matter.

I remember the prophets’ calls for justice. I remember Jesus’ inclusion of the marginalized. I remember Jesus lived and taught in smaller places away from the seat of power.

I remember that substantive change doesn’t happen by one grand gesture. Change happens one person at a time. Substantive change happens gradually. I don’t like that the path to justice is one we walk slowly. I would prefer it if we could sprint and effect change. But that’s what we have.

Perhaps my little sign is only changing me, but that’s a start. So this little sign of mine is going to stay up.

 

 


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