There is a popular song out now that talks about how we need to stand up in the face of injustice. I also see things in the blogs and other media about justice. It seems to be a primary focus of the younger crowd. I suspect however, that a lot of it is starry eyed, change the world in my generation idealism. If so, the focus may be short lived. Changing the world is something we may participate in, but usually it takes a longer than one ever expects when you are young, often generations.
I have to admit, I don’t recall thinking too much about how to stand up to injustice when I was young. I grew up in the middle of a lot of upheaval about racial equality, but my only response was to try to see everyone as individuals, not stereotypes. And yes there were things that seemed unfair to us. We argued for the right to wear clothes of our own choosing and succeeded. Of course, by the time my own kids went to school, the pendulum had swung so far the other way, that they had to wear uniforms, something that in my day was only for the kids in the local Catholic schools. But basically, we felt rather powerless, when I was young.
Now, it seems the younger generation feels powerful indeed. Their social media have been instrumental in causing social change in places they never would have dreamed it could happen. It remains to be seen how far it will go. Unfortunately, there are always those who find a way to consolidate power in the hands of the few and to use others for their own means.
I have come around to a view that standing up for justice really begins at home though. I was reading a blog about domestic violence this morning and was surprised to find that many of the responders seemed to miss the point entirely. There are any number of places that are trying to fight domestic violence in an institutional fashion. But doesn’t it very often come down to the individual, having the courage to extricate themselves from the situation and to say it is wrong to treat me this way? Isn’t fighting injustice all about exposing evil, even when it is perpetrated behind closed doors? And along with that comes exposing those who support and shield the perpetrator.
Domestic violence is all about power and control, as a friend observed in a short story she wrote. It continues until someone stands up and says this is wrong, and contacts the authorities. The blog was about how the church sometimes takes a stance that our relationships should be in a hierarchical fashion, with the man as top dog, and that legitimizes the behaviors of those we should be exposing as evil. I could not help thinking of a story told me by a friend who divorced her abusive husband some years ago.
It seems that abuse tends to escalate in these relationships and in her case it got to the point where she was in fear for her life. During this time, she apparently went to their pastor for counseling and he told her that she was not being submissive enough to her husband! She was trying to do the biblical thing and get the elders of the church to tell her husband that what he was doing was wrong and that’s the kind of advice she got? Thankfully, she gathered up her courage and removed herself from the home and filed for divorce. She stood up to injustice by saying that’s enough, and I don’t have to take it any more. Years later, she stood up to the additional insult of unwise counsel by her pastor and wrote him to tell him how wrong he was.
That was standing up in the face of injustice. So was a recent expose on tv where a woman told a similar story on tv, with the point being that this seemed to be a blind spot within an entire denomination. What I can’t understand is why those who hold to the problematic belief system, fail to see how it supports and legitimizes behaviors that are so bad that they give non-christians a reason to turn away from us. Who wants to hear about someone who is behind that? Jesus wasn’t like that at all, but they may never find that out if they are turned off by what they have seen, whether on tv or in person.