We heard Steven Lewis last night – a privilege. One comes away from a talk like that with many things to process. And I must be a bit of a slow processor. I need time to mull it all over in my head and deal with some of the information we were given. And not just for the sake of processing but to somehow respond in an appropriate way.
The Virus of Inequality I think we are all infected with it to a certain degree – and it can drive us mad with despair or paralyze us with hopelessness. I think it can probably cause us to jerk with spasms of frantic activism as well, thinking that our efforts will make the world change overnight by our own efforts. And of course that leads to hopeless despair as we come up against powers that are too big for us to budge. Or we can become deluded into a sort of selfish haze of indifference where we tell ourselves that we have worked hard for all we have and if only the rest of the world would shape up and share our political systems and economic ideals they would pull themselves out of the pits they are in. And above all we must protect what we have worked so hard to acquire.
What is a Christian to do?
I think we are called to something more like health. Even to a place of joy – not happiness, but a deep sense of wellness within that frees us to give ourselves in service to others. Nouwen says,
Ecstatic living entails a constant willingness to leave the safe, secure, familiar place and to reach out to others, even when that involves risking one’s own security. On an international scale this means a foreign policy that goes far beyond the question “How can our nation survive?” It would be a policy primarily concerned with the survival of humanity and willing to make national sacrifices. It would be a policy which realizes that idolizing the security of the nation endangers the whole of humanity….
…As long as national security is our primary concern and national survival more important than preserving life on this planet, we continue to live in the house of fear…. Nouwen, Lifesigns, Image Books, p 95
There is an inner joy that comes from knowing God – the “ecstatic” life that Nouwen talks about here that changes our relationship to the world around us. As he says, it exists in “the house of love” where we as Christians are called t o live. Loving and being loved frees us to serve others and the world and should send us out into the world around us almost like antibodies to this “Virus of Inequality” that Steven Lewis spoke so eloquently about. We do what we have to do in the areas we are placed. We stand for justice and honesty in our lives and in our politics. We do as Jesus did in standing for the oppressed. We have lots to do just in our little radii of influence but we also need to hold our leaders accountable for our actions as a nation and for the promises of our nation to the world.
The talk last night by Lewis was a great challenge to me. I will not be paralyzed into despair by the horrors that have been perpetrated on great segments of the world’s people, especially the women and children in countries at war. Living in the freedom of a deep joy that comes from knowing who I am in Christ, I will work in as many ways as I can to share the love that I have experienced with the hurting of the world. And I will renew my efforts to pass along these concerns to my children.