Enough!

enoughEnough! You’ve allowed the corruption of justice long enough. You’ve feigned helplessness or turned your back as your leaders let the wicked get away with murder. Their job was to defend the helpless, to make sure that the underprivileged and the down-and-out are treated fairly. Their job – and yours – is to stand up for the powerless, and to rescue them from those who exploit them. Ignorant people! You have your heads in the sand. You haven’t a clue what’s going on, and now everything’s falling apart. – paraphrase of Psalm 82

I’m incensed at those who mouth the words of our rich political and business leaders: “The unemployed are lazy. They don’t work hard enough. There are plenty of jobs. They just don’t try.”

I want to shout, “Quit drinking the kool-aid!  (Or tea, in this case.)  Open your eyes and see what’s going on!”

But then I look at myself. What am I doing to change our society, our political structure? Wringing my hands makes me exactly as effective as those whose blindness infuriates me. In fact, isn’t my inaction even more egregious than their ignorance? Because I DO see what’s going on.

What can I – and any individual – do? I mean, like, immediately? I can:

  1. Refuse to patronize the businesses of large employers who pay their workers less than a full-time, living wage.
  2. Move my money from a bank to a credit union.
  3. Purchase products that are fairly traded. (My responsibility for my fellow humans doesn’t end at my country’s border.)
  4. Campaign for living wages for all. Poverty would end tomorrow if we had national minimum income and a higher minimum wage.
  5. Buy less. Need less. Give more.

The current oligarchy will collapse in a month if we refuse to participate in the economics of our current era. It’s time to get our heads out of the sand. This isn’t just a political problem, it’s a spiritual one, and the psalm is clear. If we continue to stand (purposefully or through inaction) on the side of those who profit from exploiting others, we stand against God. 

 

God Grant me Vision and Courage to do more

sufferingI begin each day with the morning service from Iona Abbey Worship Book. Today’s reading was Psalm 82, which talks about God standing and speaking in a divine assembly. God says,

“How long will you defend the unjust, and favor the cause of the wicked? Rather, defend the poor and the orphaned! Render justice to the afflicted and oppressed! Rescue the weak and the poor! Set them free from the clutches of the wicked!”

But, continues the Psalmist, the assembly “knows nothing, understands nothing. They wander about in the darkness while the world is falling apart.” 

I can’t help but see that divine assembly as the assembly of Christian believers. I am horrified at those who call themselves Christian, yet defend businesses whose practices concentrate wealth, enslave people, and leave increasing numbers destitute. I don’t understand those who chastise the poor, ignoring their  long work hours and desperate need.

Every morning, in the Service, I affirm “God’s goodness in humanity, planted more deeply than all that is wrong.”

I need this affirmation. I need to know that even those who wander in the darkness are at heart, good and holy. That goodness is deeper than the pain and suffering they ignore, that goodness is buried under their blindness and their apathy.

I need that assurance to give me courage to act. Because every morning, I also vow that I will not offer God “offerings that cost me nothing.” I will not relegate God, creation and my fellow humans to a secondary role and tertiary effort.

Am I successful? Most days, I feel I am not. But I strive toward that vision. God has granted me the gift of words, both written and spoken. So I speak, even if my words will not be popular. Even if they cause me to lose clients and friends. Even if they open me to a bitter volley of response from non-believers and believers alike.

It’s not much. It’s not a great cost, especially not compared to those who starve, who shiver, who suffer. God grant me vision and courage to do more.