Social Justice

February 22, 2011

from Cardus, as part of a series of short pieces on social justice:

Sandra McCracken writes:

Conversation is a form of activism.
—Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring For Words in a Culture of Lies

Social action begins with conversation. Action comes out of the words we speak with our family.

Should I yell at my son to convince him to obey? Or could I appeal to him more creatively?
Should I make time to ask about the needs of my neighbour? Or just stay inside?
Who is my sister in Africa? Am I using my resources to bring awareness to her needs?

On a good day, I battle my ego. My constant inward gaze has caused spiritual cataracts that impair my ability to seek out love in action and conversation. It is easy to fight for my own rights. It’s not so easy to fight for somebody else’s.

My husband and I moved from the suburbs into the city in 2005, chasing down this idea of what it is to love your neighbour. One practical way I have found to combat self-protection is to get out there and mix up my “rights” with someone else’s. To care about sidewalks and housing codes for the poor is to live among the poor, so that those sidewalks and housing codes become mine.

As a follower of Jesus, social justice is something I am called to do perfectly. I fail. But Jesus has accomplished social justice on my behalf. This reality, like a new birth, liberates me to engage with my neighbours in mercy and humility. In the words of John Bunyan,

Run and work, the law demands,
but gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better song the Gospel sings:
it bids me fly, and gives me wings.

In word, song, and deed, may the Gospel elevate our conversation.


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