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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Many layers of responsibility

I was thinking the other day about justice as I was listening to right-wing Christian talk radio. I was angry because Christian radio doesn't seem to solve anything, they just point fingers at "liberals". They attack liberals for believing in abortions, saving the environment (which strangely many Christians associate with being pro-choice!), being "soft on crime", being homosexual or supporting homosexuals, and anti-American (i.e., anti-war). It made me so angry listening to these "Christians" spread their message of irritation, or loathing to thousands or millions of listeners.

I'm not sure where the reconciling message of Christ is in these broadcasts. Where in the bible does it say to cast blame on another? Where does it say to look to someone else for the source of the problem before you look to yourself? Please, someone, tell me!!

I can only muster up a splash of optimism from these radio broadcasts: I believe that these broadcasters truly recognize that there is sin and injustice in the world. I believe that their reaction to witnessing sin is to point the spotlight somewhere, hoping that illuminating a segment of society will somehow resolve some issues.

They aren't entirely incorrect; the only real problem is that pointing the finger of blame to someone else rejects the idea of a crucified Jesus. The cross of Christ requires us to recognize the effect of our own sin in the world, and anything we do to shift the attention elsewhere is really blasphemy. When I kneel before the cross, I better be prepared to deal with my own sin!

Listening to that broadcast made me think of the different aspects to deal with when wanting to pursue social justice. Here is what I came up with

1. Compassion and kindness toward others, including a complete respect of the other's dignity.
2. Personal responsibility in our daily actions, and an awareness that what we do affects others. (In my notes in my journal I wrote: this is where not buying things made-in-China comes in)
3. Convincing/teaching others about their impact and motivating others to practice ethical living.
4. Lobbying for legislative changes that address the cause of these problems.

I realize that we cannot be effective without practicing all four of these aspects. For example, living a socially responsible life by riding to work on a recycled scrap-metal bicycle and eating a 100% organic vegan diet really means nothing if you ignore your neighbor just because he drives a Hummer. Is that justice? How can we address the issues of poverty or hate if we do not have compassion on our neighbor?

Likewise, we cannot lobby for legislation without first convincing others of their ethical duties. Also, we cannot lobby for legislation if we, ourselves, are contributing to the problem! Legislation that does not reflect the opinions of the majority will be ineffective (even if it is morally correct).

Compassion alone is not enough, either. Compassion and kindness is wonderful, but without actions of justice it will only perpetuate the status-quo.

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