Throughout Lent, I’m contemplating bringing myself closer to God’s light and enabling others to see His light more clearly. What is it that blocks the light? That makes it difficult for others to see?
One of the focuses of my church is social justice. For people who don’t know what social justice is, it can feel pretty intimidating. I did a quick search this morning and I’ve found definitions that range from “socialism” to “the capacity to organize with others for a common goal.” The first is designed to put fear in the “haves” as the contemplate losing their creature comforts to the mass of humanity. The second? “Hey, y’all can get together. Quit fussing.”
Social justice, within the Presbyterian Church anyway, is the idea that no one by virtue of skin color, religion, economic level, position on the rainbow or ethnicity, should be denied access to the resources necessary to live a happy, healthy life. It means speaking out against police brutality as well as environmental destruction.
But what does it have to do with the Coelho quote? So often we are more willing to work for justice for someone who thinks like we do. Those people over there? The people who should be living just like us? Not so much.
I’ve been thinking about this specific point lately because I’ve been contracted to write a book about the Dakota Access Pipeline. As so often happens, I’ve got a number of people who are more than willing to make sure that I get the right information in my book.
Apparently there are still “good Indians” and “bad Indians.” The good ones live off the reservation and are interested in progress and economic development. Ah, the almighty dollar! Bad Indians? Don’t they know that they lost? Why are they being so loud and uncooperative?
Social justice ministry says that they are all people. God’s people. They all deserve a say in how they live their lives, where they live their lives and access to clean water. Even the ones who don’t believe like we believe. I can have my belief without messing around with theirs and still working for justice.
My belief is my belief. Your belief is yours. Social justice? That should be open to us all.