Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Face of Pain

"It's very easy to take sides with the perpetrators of sex trafficking... all they ask us for is our silence." Judith Herman

Dylan and I were reading yesterday about the march from Selma to Montgomery.  We have read  much of the horrific things that were done to African Americans - my heart breaks and Dylan is enraged every time we read it.  I was struck by something yesterday, when we read of one of the turning points.  When the marchers were approaching, the police and National Guard met them with tear gas, guns, night sticks and attacked them – unprovoked – attacked them.  And the media saw it.  They filmed it.  They showed it to the nation.  And we, as a nation, finally saw what was happening. 

After that moment, many who had sat comfortably in their living rooms across America denying that such injustice existed, could no longer ignore it.  People, who were horrified when they were finally able to admit it, took action.  At the next march, the National Guard protected and escorted this very same group – except now, this group was much, much larger.  It consisted of blacks and whites, rich and poor – united because many had finally accepted the reality of the injustice and decided it was their responsibility to take action.  The fight was not over – it was long and hard, and still lingers in places today – but it is being fought and won.

What is it that allows us to be content in our own success, happiness, pleasure - and turn our sight away from what is uncomfortable?  James said that religion that is pure and faultless will look after orphans and widows in their distress - it will act on behalf of those who are oppressed.  

It is difficult to look into the face of pain because it causes me pain and pain is uncomfortable.  But God does not call us to comfort - He calls us to act.  

Faith, without works, is dead.

Throughout history, injustice has been stopped when those not directly affected were willing to get off their butts, out of their comfort zones, take some risks, and do something.  We look at history and say, “How could they not see?”  “How could they not act?”  Yet, we -- I -- do the same thing today.  People all around us are hurting, victims of horrible injustice, victims of wretched poverty not of their making, children raised in abuse and neglect, people disposed of for the convenience of others, families caught in cycles of poverty and abuse that they don't even know they can be free of, families enslaved, children forced to do unspeakable things in the name of another’s “pleasure” - and they need someone to act on their behalf. 

Our God calls us to this. 

 When will our generation step up?  When we will be willing to fight for what is right, even when it does not directly bring harm to us?  When will we be willing to give up some of our comfort to bring freedom to someone else?  When will we be willing to shout, “No more!”

I am thankful for those people throughout history that stood up, declared to the world what was happening, would not get out of our faces until we faced the problem - I want to be one of those people today.   I don't want to forget, and I don't want to stop looking for ways to make a difference.  

"The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

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