"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits" -Martin Luther King Jr
I just finished Rachel Held Evans' book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. It's a great book. The nerd in me was really looking forward to the insight and historical details of women's lives in Biblical times, etc. She didn't go quite as in depth with some of that as I expected but what you get instead is even better. Her personal insight and growth as she looks at both being a woman and being a Christian is what makes this fascinating. She seems to have grown a lot in her faith and in confidence through the year long experiment.
It's not surprising that my favorite chapter in the book is the one on justice. Rachel Held Evans writes
"Judaism has no word for 'charity.' Instead the Jews speak of tzedakah, which means 'justice' or 'righteousness.' While the word charity connotes a single act of giving, justice speaks to right living, of aligning oneself with the world in a way that sustains rather than exploits the rest of creation. Justice is not a gift: it's a lifestyle, a commitment to the Jewish concept of tikkun olam-repairing the world."
I actually met a guy who worked for a Jewish nonprofit called Repair The World (with a tag line "What Do You Repair?" and a very cool t-shirt...of which I still own). The name makes so much more sense now...and means something even more cool.
The idea of "living justice" struck me. Almost like a new idea. Though I've been committed to justice within a number of issues over the last decade, the idea that I lived it seemed like something that hadn't occurred to me before. I wrote earlier that I'd been struggling because I felt like I'd lost my sense of purpose but the reality is, I haven't. I lost my job. Not my purpose, my passion or my identity. My job.
And throughout this summer, God has been doing something similar to what He did the summer before I went to Wellspring. He has been guiding and directing my energies in new ways. Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost my passion for trafficking. But the issues are much broader than just what I was doing.
Here is what I mean...I not only want to confront the issue of trafficking but the culture, environment and situations that lead to it. I want to raise awareness of the influence of poverty on what is happening to women and children in the US and the world. I want people to see that it impacts not just girls and women but boys as well...and a good many of them LGBT youth. It is time to take a look at the fact that while a number of organizations have grown out of the desire to raise awareness, very few have opened up recovery or restorative care facilities...and even fewer are working on preventing it before it starts.
There are less than 200 beds across the US for survivors of CSEC. On average, there are over 300 girls a month exploited in the state of Georgia alone.
But what I've been moved by, what I've learned, what I've confronted is even more than that. Everywhere I look there is a desperate need for awareness and action when it comes to homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues, immigration...the list goes on. And I'm sure your list includes things mine doesn't.
Obviously, I can't do everything. And I have no idea how it all translates into a job. It might be that I am actually destined for Starbucks. If they'll hire me! And that's not to say there is anything wrong with working at Starbucks, or Kroger, or an assembly line. It's just not where I thought my career was headed. But there's a lot of people saying that these days. But even if I can't do everything, I can do something. I can care. And I can write about it. And maybe, just maybe, someone who reads it will be inspired. Maybe something I write will start a conversation. And maybe...just maybe...create action.
I don't know. All I know is that the phrase "live justice" rekindled the fire. It brought me back to "life" again. It reminded me who I am. It reminded me of what I want my life to be about.
Live justice. Love like Jesus commanded.
Martin Luther King Junior won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In his acceptance speech, he said "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits." I absolutely love this idea. Not only because he didn't say he believes that they should have it, because he said they can. Because they should be able to eat and be people of dignity. Because not only should they have physical food but mind food-education and culture-as well. And they can, they can have it. If we "live justice", they can have all of these things. If we live a lifestyle that reminds us that we are a community whose goal should be to "repair the world", they can have it.
Martin Luther King Jr had the audacity to believe that. And I do too.
I've got my groove back. Let's do this.