It can be so easy to sit at home and lament all of the horrible stuff that happens around the world: “Black Friday really is the worst!” “It’s so sad what’s happening in Syria” or “Did you hear what Trump said about immigrants, democrats, the Supreme Court, Russia, the media, whateverelsehesrantingaboutnow?” But every once in a while, you get a chance to actually do something about it. Not just talk, or blog, or read, but DO.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from MP Peter Julian about a Private Member’s Bill that he brought to Parliament in 2016. The Bill is called The International Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Act (Bill C-331) and it is going to go before Parliament for its second reading soon.
I’ve long been marginally aware of the violations and injustices perpetrated by industries operating in majority world countries. After receiving Mr. Julian’s email about Bill C-331 I did some research and found out even more about the impact of Canadian mining companies internationally, particularly in Latin America. Continue reading
The social justice world is full of people who react. We react to people who are hungry. We react to people who are marginalized. We react to pipelines, and privilege, and racism, and leaders who say things we disagree with. We react to situations where we see that something is broken and we know things could be different, more whole and healthy.
But, what if we aren’t called to react?
Stick with me here. I’m not saying that we should cast the powerful call of Jesus aside, but what if reacting to the need is not what Jesus is calling us to do? What if he instead is calling us to respond to him.
The difference between reacting to a need and responding to the person of Jesus may be slight in appearance, but I think it is a powerful and important difference, especially if we are committed to transformation – both in ourselves and in the world.
I woke up in the middle of the night the other night – something that’s not unusual for me, particularly when my body is still trying to adjust its clock from a trip overseas. After not being able to get back to sleep for a few minutes my typical course of action is to reach for a book, so that’s what I did. I’m in the middle of reading a wonderful book called, “The Hate U Give,” which tells a story of racism in the US through the eyes of a 16-year-old girl after injustice touches her life in a tragic way. The book has me thinking a lot about systemic racism in the United States, particularly in the law enforcement and justice systems, but also in the smaller, everyday places, like within and between neighbourhoods and friends.
- Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
- Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
This hymn by Charles Wesley expresses the hopeful longing of the Advent and Christmas seasons. We know that Christ was born, lived, died and was resurrected. We know that Immanuel, ‘God with us’, is with us – goes before us, and is at our side, even now. Yet still we long for the day when God’s kingdom is fully realized. Our hearts are touched by the poverty and injustices we see in the world and cry, “thy gracious kingdom bring!” – the day when all things will be reconciled, made new. In a world that often seems full of pain and darkness, the hope and the longing sit, almost paradoxically, side by side with the joy of this time of celebration.
If you’ve been anywhere near social media since October 17th, I’m sure you’ve seen the literally millions of #metoo tweets and statuses. A flood of women sharing that they too have experienced sexual assault or harassment after yet another very public story of gender violence and abuse of power in Hollywood.
I have long thought of myself as a bit of a feminist, but despite these feminist leanings, I did not participate in the #metoo campaign. And not because I haven’t experienced sexual harassment or don’t think it’s a problem. I didn’t participate because I’m tired.
I’m tired because I don’t understand why people should have to continue to “out” themselves as victims again and again to try and see change. #Metoo is not the first campaign of its kind, and it’s not the first time a public story of sexual violence has provoked a flood of new voices that have bravely said, “me too.” I applaud those who have been courageous enough to share their truth, but another “victim count” will not create the change we are looking for. We need to move beyond framing the story around the overwhelming number of people who have experienced this injustice and towards how we, as a society, continue to enable these types of injustices to happen in the first place.
Often when I talk about injustice, I think about it as an international problem. And injustice is rampant internationally, but it’s a very local issue as well. My work for a locally focused community youth work organization – Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited – reminds me of this in beautiful ways. At Youth Unlimited, our mandate flows out of the mission of Jesus. We relationally engage in holistic work with vulnerable youth in partnership with the Church and the community. In other words, we work with some pretty rough around the edges youth, journeying with them towards God’s healing love.
I often tell people that in my role I get to work with the cream of the crop — the leadership-minded youth of Youth Unlimited. However, many people looking out at the faces at one of my program’s meetings may not recognize just how amazing these youth are. Instead, they may be distracted by the blue hair… Or the multiple piercings… Or the green lipstick… Or the sarcastic remarks…
October 17th was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Eradicating poverty – a lofty goal that those of us at JustUs are passionate about, but there are some very important caveats. What is poverty? Who are the poor? What does “non-poverty” look like? How do we get there? And what is my role in the process of eradicating poverty? How you answer each of these questions will have a big impact on how, or even if you will choose to engage in poverty eradication efforts.
The other day, Andy, one of the other JustUs team members, forwarded me the cartoon manifesto shown on the right.
I think it is a great reminder that in the story of getting rid of poverty in the world, we are not necessarily the main players that we sometimes like to think we are. We need to deal with the poverty in our own lives, and humbly walk beside and support others who are seeking to deal with the poverty that they experience. We are sidekicks! Not only are we sidekicks, at JustUs, we also believe that God is author and orchestrator of all poverty eradication efforts. He’s already in the process of restoring all things, and we get to join Him in that. God’s in charge and we all get to be sidekicks. In the face of the overwhelming problem of poverty, that is a humbling and freeing reality. One that motivates me to be the best sidekick I can be!
If you are interested in issues of poverty and justice and want to know more about how you can get involved, check out our JustUs workshop in Surrey on November 26th. Click here for more information and to register.
Click here to see and sign the original Sidekick Manifesto.
(Retrieved from: http://sidekickmanifesto.org)
Some friends and I were chatting this weekend about politics and current events. While each of us voiced a few particular concerns about our new government (“Where’s the money going to come from?” and “He could be a little less flashy…”) across the board we all agreed that we are quite proud to be Canadian right now. Our government has been working hard to set a tone that highlights Canada’s diversity as a strength. This new “positive and ambitious and hopeful” agenda is especially refreshing when viewed in comparison with the racist rhetoric surrounding Brexit in the UK and the election campaign in the United States. Having just celebrated Canada Day, we were all reminded of how grateful we are to be living in this country. And yet, there is still much work to be done for justice and equality, right here in Canada – especially in regard to our colonial history and the injustices that continue to plague indigenous Canadians.
I read a blog yesterday by Sarah Bessey that I really connected with. It was about a time during her second maternity leave, when she spent a good portion of a morning picking up Rice Krispies from the floor where her young children had spilled them. I really connected with the experience that she described, but not because I could relate to her context; while I make plenty of my own messes, my life does not involve much cleaning up after little ones! I connected with it because the “spiritual awakening” that she experienced through the Rice Krispie incident resonated with some things I’ve been mulling over lately. And I think it has great relevance to the purpose and aims of JustUs, as well.
Sarah writes about her realization that God is present in the ordinary and the regular (like cleaning up spilled cereal) in a way that surprised her. She writes about how Christians are often “fed a steady diet… that we [are] meant to change the world, to be heroes, to be different than the rest of the world, to be radical, to prepare only for the mountaintop!” And about how this can cause us to miss, “the beauty of daily following Jesus into a whole life redemption.”
I grew up going to Catholic school, and while I’m not Catholic, there are many things about the Catholic tradition that I like. The way the church marks the liturgical seasons is one of the many things I grew to appreciate through my Catholic school experience. At school, the beginning of Lent was marked every year with a big pancake feast on Shrove Tuesday and mass on Ash Wednesday. The whole school participated in the mass and everyone had the opportunity to have their foreheads marked with ashes. As a child, my understanding of why we did these things may have been somewhat limited, but the traditions marked in my consciousness the importance of the season of Lent.
As I grew in my own faith, I began to incorporate different practices into the way I observed Lent. Mostly it revolved around fasting from something – sweets or TV, and later on things like coffee or wine. Each year the hope was that through the practice of fasting, I would draw nearer to God. I guess the idea was that by sacrificing something important to me, each time I thought about what I was missing, I would be reminded of my weakness and turn my attention towards God.