Darfurwoman_living_under_tree_us_holocau

Here is a crash course on who, what, where, when & why…along with other thoughts and feelings that have been brewing in my soul for a while

Smith College professor, Eric Reeves, provides a week long crash course: “Darfur 101”  for those of us who are still trying to gain some understanding of what is happening in Darfur, Sudan.  This link will take you to the third installment, but if you scroll down, you can read parts 1 & 2.  Eric Reeves has been fighting for two years to bring the Darfur, Sudan situation to public attention.  This crash course is a terrific overview so far.

As i said in my last post, i am not writing about Darfur, Sudan, only because i have nothing else to write about…but because i  have captured by the truth of the tragedy and i have become convicted by the G-d of justice, who in Micah 6:8 clearly says, “He has shown thee, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with Thy G-d.”

 

I have known this verse for years, mostly because of the praise song which is why i can recite it from memory as above… and back in the day when i used to do cross stitch…(yes, i used to cross stitch, no laughing, now… years ago when i was put on bed rest with my first pregnancy, i cross-stitched up a storm…cause i was a ‘good little conservative, christian, suburban, homemaker,” trying desperately to fit in at 22 years old;) and all the ladies in my bible study were cross stitching).

but i digress… back in the day when i used to cross stitch, i once cross stitched part of this verse for my husband, who seemed to live it out so elegantly, thus, the words “walk humbly with thy God”  have been displayed somewhere in our home for the better part of 20 years…and as i think about this verse now, i wonder if i really ever thought about what G-d meant by the words “do justice.”  i don’t think so, really…until now

these are not words that call me to …”enact justice on those who wrong me,”  or words that grant me permission to “be Judgemental”  and they are certainly not an admonition to “act in the name of G-d as a vigilante police force and judge those who are not measuring up to the standard of ‘the church’ or our ‘correct’ interpretation of the Scriptures.” (all of which i have been guilty of at some point in my christian life, i am sorrowful and ashamed to say).  No,  i think these words are a call to act on behalf of others, for their benefit when i encounter them being treated with injustice…

and that is why i am writing, again, about the genocide in Darfur.  When, I saw the movie Hotel Rwanda, i realized that in 1994, i was more concerned about what preschool my son was going to attend than the reality that people… that children were being massacred with machetes because they were members of the ‘wrong’ tribe, and i knew that i never wanted to be so blind to reality again.

I am not saying that it is not important to be aware where my son would go to preschool, but realizing that i was so consumed with my own little life that i did not know what was going on in the world, for far too many years brought me great shame and that shame brought repentance… and i have purposed myself to become aware and to do what i can to make a difference, even if it is only a small difference.

I have struggled with opening my eyes.  They hurt.

I am reminded of a scene in the Matrix, when Neo first wakes up on the Nebecanezzer, and sees Morpheus.  Neo says, “My eyes hurt.”  Morpheus nods knowingly, and calmly states…”that is because you  have never really used them before.”

I use this analogy quite often in my private practice, as i try to reassure and encourage those brave souls who open their eyes and face the truth of their stories, their painful pasts and their own sin and its consequential fallout…Now i am aware how profoundly i can relate to this scene.  In opening my eyes, i see injustice everywhere…

And the pain tempts me to close them again…

But the call in Micah links “doing justice” to pleasing God.  And if doing justice is seeing the injustice done to my neighbor and doing something about it…something to care for, to soothe, to offer care, provision, comfort, an advocates voice, food and shelter… something, then that is what i must begin to do.  and thus i cannot close my eyes.

The Darfur genocide is large and loud… it is systematic ethnic cleansing that demands an uprising of voices that cry out…Stop!

but there are other injustices…everywhere.  in other parts of Sudan, in Uganda, and Burundi…All throughout Africa…There is global poverty that stuns and sorrows me, when i see a video clip stating that in the US, we spend 60 million dollars on cosmetics each year, and i know that it takes $1.00 to save a child from HIV/AIDS or only $1.00 to dig a well in Africa.  And Monday, i found out that it costs only 16 cents to feed a Sudanese refugee for an entire day.  i am not sure what to do with such staggering data.  I do know that i have had to look at my spending habits, the things i buy without thinking, without pause or question…i cannot do so anymore…

Opening my eyes to injustice requires me to see that there is an industry of Human Trafficking that extends from Japan, China, through my  father’s homeland of Pakistan/India, Europe, the global South and even to the shores of the United States.  Opneing my eyes to this injustice requires me to see that there is little outcry, that there is virtually no media coverage. In fact, there is more outrage and interest over a runaway bride, than one young woman, a child really, being sold into slavery and prostitution.

And closer to home, in my county, one of the richest areas in the United States, there are people with full time jobs, who cannot afford housing.  There are many who cannot afford health care, there are children who are in unsafe homes and environments and the list of injustices goes on…and i haven’t even mentioned the city of Washington DC, only 30 miles away.

I am overwhelmed.  I do not know what my response is supposed to be.  i know at times that being overwhelmed can result in me becoming paralyzed…unable to do anything at all, except to want to numb myself…pour myself a glass of wine and turn on the TV…to plug back into the Matrix so i do not have to know the truth or live in the land of the real!

Please understand, I am not against the enjoyment or pleasure of a good meal, good wine or even a great movie or an enjoyable evening with friends, for these are part of the truth and the real as well… i just know that both truths must remain on my radar screen, in my prayer life and on my daily agenda…

I know that I cannot do everything, but i can do something…and for now, on some days my something…is a blog post… while on other days it is planning a peace vigil… everyday it is wearing a green band, and a white ONE band, so that when people see them and ask what they are for i have an opportunity to share, (and for those of you who know me well… this is a real sacrifice, given my propensity for funky and fun bracelets… i mean “live strong” type bracelets have become all the rage, but they do not compliment many outfits…seriously! so i wear the white & green bands as an act of “doing justice…” even though they clash with most of my clothes ;D  and prevent me from wearing the funky cool bracelets i have…

and even as i write those words i think to myself…”well maybe if you hadn’t bought funky bracelets and had given the money to HIV/AIDS research..then you wouldn’t think twice about the green/white bands…OK, note to self, no more bracelet purchases…but the green and white bands still wouldn’t look great with my outfit;)  (OK, see the mess that goes on inside my head ;D   because now i am going to argue with myself in yet another vein, but it is really an important one in this whole justice conversation… so i will take it out of my brain, and thus parentheses and bring it to the table…)

regarding buying things for ourselves, enjoying the blessing we have… this is a hard one for me and i would love to hear your thoughts on this.  i have learned a great deal from one of my friends at church, who loves Jesus, and is very involved in social justice, but is willing to embrace and enjoy the gifts of financial blessings in moderation. she seems very at peace when she buys something new.  When i asked her about this she said it is because she and her husband have set aside a certain amount of money that they will use for living expenses, while other monies are designated for mission, tithes, etc.  Thus when she purchases a new shirt or book, it is from designated funds, and she enjoys the purchase… this has helped me.

I have come to believe that we are not called to total denial of our wants, but that we are called to a lack of excess and overindulgence.  I know that G-d calls us to provide for and care for the widows, orphans and aliens… and so i can buy a funky bracelet, wear it and enjoy it…without guilt, if i am a good steward of the money, time and other resources that G-d has given me… this is where i have settled for now, but i am wrestling with this, while living in an affluent suburb of DC, raising teenagers in the self indulgent, spoiled, excess oriented, “disposable everything” mentality culture …this is hard stuff to talk about and live in the midst of…like i said, sometimes i want to close my eyes… but i know that i cannot do that  ever again, so i welcome your thoughts/advice/input…

i know that this is a long, hard post… (thanks for reading this far) …but it has been brewing and i guess it is part of why i have not written much of late… theology must move toward praxis…(a fancy way to say:  our thinking and talking about G-d must translate into action…)  and so as i have posted lots of info about Darfur, it is my way of moving toward action, and i guess this post is a bit of an offering of my thoughts about G-d and life with G-d in the midst of this glorious mess we call life…

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