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Social Injustice & Reform

What Happens When We Choose Silence?

When we’re inspired to hate or fear a group of people, we dehumanize them to the point of complete indifference. Their lives matter less and less, while the importance of keep our lives as is, matters more and more. When challenged to fight for justice, often we don’t; the price of personal disruption seems too high.

I’m not that person – am I?

As we question ourselves, who wants to say – I’m that person. Who wants to admit that they would rather look the other way when social injustice occurs? Instead, we tell ourselves – I don’t hate them. I don’t fear them. I wish them the best. And maybe that’s true. The problem, however, is that we don’t actually care enough to help them because they are not us.

It is our silence that speaks volumes as to where we stand. It is our inaction that allows those fueled by hatred to make sweeping changes that have far reaching impact. When we choose silence, we become similar to those we call bigots, racists, and xenophobes because we too, don’t want our lives to be disrupted. We don’t want to feel like anything has been taken from us. The desire for comfort and convenience often outweigh the value we place on social reform.

Why we choose silence

To be fair, I think as a society we’re tired, and a little distracted. Every day feels like it brings about a new cause, a new idea to fight for, a new issue that needs to be fixed. And it’s not like our lives are dull. We are going through challenges at home, at work, in relationships, and throughout the mini ecosystems we’ve built for ourselves.  What little energy we have left is reserved for what we see as mission critical circumstances. It’s hard to think about fighting for others when you’re trying to deal with your own, personal mental exhaustion.

And so to cope, we desensitize ourselves to the chaos around us. We may think that we need to reach our own goals first, and then we can get around to helping others. The chaos around us starts to become normal behavior as we ask ourselves – how did we get here? The answer is fear. Fear of change. Fear of disruption. Fear of jobs being taken. Fear of a recession. Fear of missing out. Fear of losing what’s most important. Fear of being singled out and cast aside.

And so we choose inaction. We become passive participants in the problems that plague our societies. We say we don’t want to fight, and yet we’re all still fighting. We’re fighting for normalcy, against being seen as followers, for financial stability, for relationships and for families.  What’s amazing about humans is that built within us is this tenacity to fight for what’s most important to us. What’s sad, is that we sometimes forget about each other. We forget about the human connectivity that binds us, and the more we distance ourselves from this, the easier it is to look the other way.

Does our choice matter to God?

Yes, yes it does. No matter the situation, God does not expect us to choose silence or inaction. In Matthew 25: 41-45, Jesus speaks of the day of judgement when He will say:

“…‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

Jesus wanted us to remember that we’re all in this together. No one should be passed by because of race, religion, or background. We are all His children, and by showing concern for others, we express gratitude to God for the love and concern He shows for us. The decisions are not always easy, but love is an action. It’s something we live and breathe every day. The greatest testimony of God’s love we can ever give is to stand for those who struggle to stand for themselves.

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