On Sunday morning this past weekend at the Jubilee conference we got to "worship" with spoken word protest poetry (you can find some of it here
). One line that really struck me was, "our arms are raised, but our fists are open." We raise our hands in worship, a symbol of our close connection to God and the depth of our personal piety, and yet we don't raise our fists in protest of the injustices in the world. We are too lazy, too wrapped up in church events, or too afraid to get involved. Our "worship" is all about us and not about others. I am reminded of the passages from Isaiah where we're told the kind of worship God desires -
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;
wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,
learn to do right!
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.
This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
So while I am encouraged that the Emerging Church is becoming more and more aware of these issues, universal action still seems a long way off. I still encounter people who debate whether not not we should attempt to right the wrongs of the world. Or those that tell us not to get bogged down on the big issues, just focus on your everyday life. Or those who say all we need to do is pray and not have anything to do with politics ever. My response is that we need to get up off our knees and put our prayers into action. But how do we motivate people? Why should people care?
In a session this weekend one presenter listed the reasons why people should care about Debt Relief. I find these interesting and wonder if there are any more that can be added to the list.
- It's a moral issue and as people of faith/conscious we should care for others. We should be moved to effect change and love our neighbor. But if that isn't enough to motivate us, there are a few other reasons -
- Health concerns. If indebted countries continue to slash funds to heath services so that they can repay debt, disease will flourish. There has already been a significant rise in easily treatable/preventable diseases as a direct result of the reduction in doctors, nurses, and clinics. But there is also the potential (and we are seeing the beginnings of it) for deadly diseases to proliferate which will effect the whole world. If other countries can't handle epidemics of TB, Avian flu, and AIDS the whole world will pay.
- Environmental degradation. As countries that are forced to spend 80% of their budget on debt repayment scramble to find alternate sources of income, the environment is laid waste. Forests are clear cut, unsustainable crops are planted, pesticides are dumped into the environment, chemicals are dumped into rivers instead of disposed of properly. This destroys ecosystems and will result in a completely unlivable landscape down the road. Where will all the people go then or whose aid will they live on then?
- To get the politicians (the ones in the position to affect change - i.e. clean up the messes they have made) to care, it takes the voters letting them know that care care. If the politicians know that they will face consequences if they don't listen to their constituency, then they will work for change in order to save their own butts come election time.
What could you add to the list? Is it bad to focus on the natural consequences that will effect us personally if the plight of the other isn't enough to move us to action? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Labels: Culture, Emerging Church, Environment, Social Justice