Monday, 26 April 2010

ripples of justice

Each time human beings stand up for an ideal, 
or act to improve the lot of others, 
or strike out against injustice, 
they send forth a tiny ripple of hope, 
and crossing each other 
from a million different centers of energy and daring, 
those ripples build a current that can sweep down 
the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  
Robert F. Kennedy

Recently I had a conversation with someone from my Iona family Group.  He and I had been doing our annual 'accounting' - how we'd used our time and resources over the year, and of our commitment to peace and justice.  
We talked of the folk who, in their commitment to peace, go to Faslane to protest against nuclear submarines.  
We thought of folk who went to the Holy Land under the Ecumenical Accompaniers scheme to walk alongside those living in vulnerable communities and who reported human rights abuses.  
And we talked of folk who do so much in their everyday communities, and who do not see that they are doing anything particularly 'special'... like the housewife we both know who, through belief in fair prices for farmers in developing countries [and stubborn persistence!], eventually saw her village achieve fair-trade status.
And of the many folk who do 'little things' - turn the heating down a notch and put on an extra sweater; decide to put 'green' lightbulbs in their homes; remember to recycle as part of the daily routine; or opt to only buy locally produced items to encourage small local businesses and cut back carbon footprints through not getting lamb flown in from New Zealand - even though that is financially costly.
Sometimes we think that the business of pursuing peace and justice involves grand gestures -
and sometimes that is absolutely the right thing to do; 
and sometimes we become overwhelmed by hopelessness
because we know that there's so much need in the world;
and sometimes we hear that to pursue peace and justice is something
that mistaken 'trendy lefties' do...  and to avoid these folks [and their churches] at all costs.

I'm often reminded of the comment another friend of mine once made a loooong time ago:
'be faithful in the small things and the big things tend to look after themselves',
and I wonder about the impact of a life lived in integrity and in that process of integrity,
perhaps watching small ripples appear that move out into the world and quietly begin a process of transformation.       
Because the business of peace and justice, and transformation, is just that: a process.  
Sometimes slow.
And always costly.
But not as costly as doing nothing.
I think we fool ourselves if we look the other way and pretend not to see and fail to act.
I wonder if the cost of conforming is not only to watch the destruction of the planet, of others, but also to destroy ourselves?  
Or maybe I'm an idealist.
Actually, I know I'm an idealist! 
But a passion for peace and justice is no mere 'woolly leftie' agenda: 
to pursue peace and justice,
to do what is good and right and equitable,
is to follow what is an inherently biblical agenda.

God is on the side of those destroyed by the cost of conforming.
Time and time again God's agenda for transformation rings like a bell throughout the bible -
loud and strong and clear.  
Perhaps the failing of folk who don't adhere to Glenn Beck's philosophy of 'non-peace and justice'
is that we forget to demonstrate just how much there is in the bible concerning matters of peace and justice?
Perhaps we need to be better about showing that what we do comes about
because of our passionate belief in the God of justice,
a belief which is rooted in scripture
not in some fluffy bubble of 'niceness'.  
And that transformation, in the little things and in the big things,
in our lives and in the life of the world is possible.
So, note to self: time to stand up for an ideal or two, or three...
and speak up for some folks I know who can't.

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