Needless to say, this really bothers me a lot. The attitude I typically get from people is that I am a little wacky for caring about things like the Palestinians. They just don't see the point. I am lacking 'common sense,' or something, which is a pretty funny accusation since the driving force of my philosophy is fighting for the common good. Not the good for this powerful group or that powerful group, but the good for everyone. The most frequent retort I get about people who are 'behind' is that it's probably their own fault. Maybe, but maybe not. It's just an assumption useful to people who want to justify closing a door behind them. Those who have made it ahead give themselves credit for their own hard work and seem to assume that anyone who didn't achieve XYZ must be a slacker. I find this grimly amusing coming from boomers, the very generation that turned the world to shit for billions. Must we be reminded that wages have been flat for decades, the dollar performs an incredible shrinking act before our very eyes, and most families need two or three jobs just to stay even? I often wonder if some of those who give themselves such big pats on the back for their own success could make it under today's rules as easily as they did back in the day. Can an honest person really get ahead today just by hard work and a little luck? Not very likely, and that's the difference between then and now. I wrote about this a little here.
But enough of that. It will shake out eventually, because I do believe that Dr. Martin Luther King was correct when he said, "The arc of the universe bends slowly but it always bends toward justice." Those who have shown little concern for those behind them, myopically focusing on everyone ahead, racing, striving and grasping their way forward regardless of the consequences downstream, will be turned around eventually to see what's left in their wake. Or rather who is left clinging to the detritus. This applies to us individually and as a nation.
For me this need to turn around and look behind us stems from my faith. Being duly horrified at what I see, I can't help but point it out to anyone who might listen. Oh, my God. It's urgent that we turn around. It's urgent for our own lives as much as for those who we are killing, literally, by this country's trajectory. And if one cannot care enough to turn around, perhaps one can at least see how our leaders leave us in their wake, and we ourselves cling to detritus whether we recognize this or not. The detritus of a shredded Constitution, a wrecked economy, a poisoned environment, a broken social contract.
My friend Jim Martin works for International Justice Mission. We grew up in the same town and somehow share this obsession with justice, though Jim puts me to shame with his action to secure justice for people around the world. He just had an article published which details his own trajectory moving from focusing on mercy to justice, and most importantly, he details how people can get involved doing this locally.
Maria has been going to a small Peruvian evangelical church for most of her 15 years. Until a couple of years ago, she would have seemed just another preteen ambling her way toward adulthood. But soon after puberty the first irrefutable symptom of her condition revealed itself. Her all-too-familiar swollen belly was not caused by lack of food, but by the absence of an advocate. Maria lives in a community where sexual abuse of children is not just common but rampant. Unable to protect herself, she became the victim of choice of a local cab driver, a "friend" of her family, and her repeated abuse resulted in the worst kind of unwanted pregnancy. The challenges of raising an infant with very few resources and even less experience have become the worn fabric of her daily life. Maria has borne, both literally and figuratively, the consequences of the biblical sin of oppression, the abuse of power.Obviously, it gets depressing to pay attention to all the injustice in the world. It requires courage to look. It's humbling to realize how much work needs to be done. More than one lovely person has flat out told me they don't want to know certain things. No offense, I'm to understand. Just change the subject. This unwillingness to care, to look, to feel remorse, and to change, is the main reason why injustice prevails across the globe.
It seems easier not to know, but that is an illusion. You are already oppressed, though not as obviously as a Palestinian or a poor girl in a Peruvian village. In a matter of time, every American will come to understand the bitter truth of our national trajectory, a great nation which soared and then plummeted along the sure arc of justice. You can turn around now and let your mind soak it all in, absorb the blow, regain your equilibrium, and try to function a better way. Or, you can turn around when you're flung off the back of the boat, knocked unconscious, drowning in grief and despair, and looking for someone to care about your problems when they have their hands full of their own.