It's easy to conclude that if we can't blot out racial inequality or contribute a zillion dollars to address clean water in Africa then our investment in matters of social injustice won't matter. My dear friend, and Really blog manager, Carla Foote always inspires me to just take the next step. And then ... the next. Never more so that in her words below as she asks, "What Else?"
By Carla Foote
I walked in the Martin Luther King Jr. day Marade (march + parade) in Denver this year. I felt like this gesture was the least I could do given the continuing issues of racial injustice in our country. But after I walked, I wondered, what else?
The same week, I went to a film about immigration at a local university. In the Q & A time following the film, I asked about next steps. If the film raises awareness, great, but then what? I have already written to Congress about my views on impending (or stalled) legislation. What else?
Raising awareness about justice issues is important. We now know more about issues such as sex trafficking, because there has been a focus on raising awareness in recent years. Awareness is an important first step, but what else?
I think about justice issues often; I care deeply and am troubled when I read stories about individuals and sectors of society that lack the legal and economic safeguards that I barely notice in my own life. What else?
The prophet Micah haunts me: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
Seems that God isn't just interested in right thinking, he also cares about my actions.
Actually, it is simple to do a few micro-level acts of justice and mercy toward those I encounter in my day-to-day life. I can get out of the car to help the man struggling with his groceries in the parking lot, rather than stewing about how he is in my way. And I can donate to justice causes without straining my bank account. I realize that individual acts are helpful and necessary, but what about the need for systemic change to create a more just society? What about letting a longing for justice permeate my being? What else?
The prophets aren't much help to my peace of mind, but I guess that is the role of prophets, to unsettle, not to soothe. As I re-read the prophet Amos, I was struck anew by the connection between just acts and listening closely to God. Is it really that simple and that hard? I can learn to act justly if I am continually listening to the whispers of the Spirit, making me aware and then guiding my every action.
Here's what I know:
I won't figure this all out in 500 words or 40 days. But that doesn't excuse me from thinking, listening and acting.
Discomfort is a good place to be, because the prophets and Jesus seem to often speak out against those who are comfortable and complacent.
Small actions can lead to more awareness, and then more action and more awareness. This cycle goes on, individually, and also in communities.
Lent starts next week. For me, I will use these days set apart to listen to God and others, including Amos, James and Jesus. To listen to people who cause me discomfort. And I will seek to act justly on what is revealed to me as I listen. What else?
Carla Foote reads widely and processes her reading by taking long walks and asking questions. She wants to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. Carla is the blog manager for Really at www.elisamorgan.com and also helps other organizations and individuals to communicate clearly (www.fineprintedit.com). Follow her on Twitter @carlacfoote.