Monday, July 21, 2008

abolitionism = not the end

Looking back at the issue of slavery always astounds me a bit. The fact that all throughout scriptures we have story after story of God's people being rescued from it, and such emphasis on freedom, and equality before the throne. And yet, for a LONG time, even the most religious people saw nothing wrong with owning other human beings and viewing them as inferior.

I imagine myself sometimes, reading through stories from those years, as one of the few who would have realized the injustices happening, and speaking out on their behalf. But honestly, would I have been? I'm not sure. If I'd been raised to think and see things a certain way (which I have been), in a culture that views the world a certain way (which it does)...could I see beyond that? What role does God play in that revelation?

Thankfully, a lot of work has been done in those regards, and now a larger portion of the world understands that slavery is not just. Although there are several people/cultures/organizations who get around this issue by throwing a few pennies at their workers, whatever is enough to not be official "slavery".

But let's face it...if a person or group of people is unable to move/work/live freely because of economic or work conditions/etc. that have been placed on them by another people who CAN move freely in those areas....it's still not just. And as far as one group of people viewing another as "inferior", I guess we have a long way to go too. You see that in every setting, from school lunchrooms to international economic and political interactions. But at least....a really small part of the issue has been confronted. Right?

All that to say, what is our "slavery"?

What is it, that a few generations from now will look back on and say,
"How did they not realize how wrong this was?"

N.T. Wright, towards the end of his book "Surprised by Hope" says that the issue of today that would compare to the issue of slavery years ago....is that of International Debt. The crushing and paralyzing conditions many nations (of humans) are living in, due to unjust loan management by other nations. Do you agree? Would you name a different issue?

But even with this. If we name the "current issue", and have rallies, and change laws, and fight the system...something remains. A new "current issue" will rise up to take its place, based on the same injustices.

How do we confront the foundational illness that leads to injustices like these?

I think I just combined like 3 posts into one. Go back, and read it slower. :)

1 comment:

thinkingoutloud said...

I would modify NT Wright's (why by the way is amazing) statement somewhat.

I think American slavery showed a protestant callousness and blindness to human suffering because the focus of protestantism has always been individualistic not communal. And it has always been about moral, judicial righteousness not about wholeness and healing.

Therefore the modern-day equivalent is the protestant callousness and blindness to human suffering in general. It's just that different people are suffering now than were before.

Anyone who wants you to take a more informed and compassionate road in life must be honest with you about what that will eventually lead to.

In the short term it would mean eating less food. Traveling less. Working more. Having less things. Having more hassle. Perhaps even suffering a bit.

That's because if we do away with our oppressive systems we won't have all the food we need - we will have to share. We will have to pay the people who grow it a fair wage and that will be more expensive. We won't be able to drive our car as much or buy as many clothes.

That's the truth. If you're not willing to do it then you probably wouldn't have joined the abolitionists.