Monday, February 25, 2013

thinking about justice

This weekend I met a guy.

...thousands of them, and girls too.  Now I have your attention, no doubt, good.

What I really mean is, this weekend I went to the justice conference in Philadelphia with thousands of men and women.  In order to process everything I experienced, I wrote a post when I came home Friday night, and another on Saturday and yet another on Sunday night after processing even more. I erased all of them. I don’t think that I have ever erased a post in its entirety before, but this weekend was a total mind F for me in so many ways. Its hard to process having all of the emotions of guilt, shame, sadness, hope and joy over the same topics.

I was talking to a new friend at one point during the weekend, and in passing he mentioned, “I think in song lyrics”. And my response was that “I think in narrative”. In fact, I have been writing and re-writing this post in my head for about 3 days. While I am driving or staring or when I should be listening, I am usually starting a new piece of writing in my head. Thinking through things.  When I hear about a person's story or when I replay conversations, it usually concludes in the form of a story. Weird, I know, but ask me how I remember your name sometime and you will discover my thought patterns are weird on all sorts of levels.

I was thinking about the conversation, and how thought patterns occur differently for everyone, in between being inundated with the harsh reality of talks on topics such as sex trafficking, immigration, racial injustice, and poverty. As I sat in the bleacher seating, I was thinking, writing, crying and these thoughts rolled over me almost like a dream....

And who shall I blame for this sweet and heavy trouble?
For every stupid struggle?
I don't know.
I could buy you a drink.
I could tell you all about it.
I could tell you why I doubt it, and why I still believe.

But I can't say it like I sing it.
And I can't sing it like I think it.
And I can't think it like I feel it.
And I don't feel a thing.
Oh no - I don't feel a thing.
And who shall I blame for this sweet and heavy trouble?

They were song lyrics (thanks pedro the lion). I think in song lyrics too, but also in narrative and in hopelessness and in a depth that makes my heart groan and stomach churn. I think, therefore I am, right? No. It feels like no one does think anymore. Because if they thought, I hope they would do. And no one does anymore. We hole up in our worlds of comfort and stability and we stay there. Or maybe, its not that no one "thinks" anymore its that no one "knows".

This weekend, the speakers brought to light a couple things to think about...

“Good is the enemy of great” - Jim Collins
“Everyone wants to change humanity, but no one wants to change themselves” - Tolstoy by way of Ken (iforgethislastname) 

“We can’t do everything, but we can do something”
“We (the church) are walking with purpose, in the wrong direction” - Brenda Salter McNeil

“There are currently 27 million PEOPLE held in slavery today” - Gary Haugen

“Mercy triumphs over judgment”
“The closer we are to God, the less we want to throw stones at people (John 8:1-11). God is in the business of loving people, sinners, back to life” - Shane Claiborne

“There have been 400 million babies killed since 1978 for being born a girl in China. Because of this, 500 women take their lives everyday there as well” - Chai Ling

“There are 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, 95 % of all the immigrants will never step foot in an American home”
“”The word immigrant appears 92 times in the bible, and it is constantly linked together with fatherless,widow and the poor, meaning we must help every group and not treat immigrants like actual aliens”. - Jenny Yang & Matt Soerens.

Over 24 million children live absent of their biological father.
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
85% of all youths sitting in prison today grew up in a fatherless home

I think about these quotes  and facts from the weekend, and so many more and it stirs something up in me. I do not have the answers, and in fact, that is why I erased my first three posts of self righteousness and condemnation for those not “doing” enough. But I am encouraged to think, fast and pray about the injustice happening worldwide to human beings. The ones who cannot speak for themselves. And my hope is that out of these thoughts will spring action, not out of guilt but, instead, out of love.

And so I will leave this post well enough alone, ending with quotes, song lyrics, movies, and website links in order to serve every sort of thought pattern.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” - MLKJr

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. - CS Lewis

This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! - Jeremiah 22:3

Oh, falling leaves should curse their branches
For not letting them decide where they should fall
And not letting them refuse to fall at all
David Bazan

Don't lose your soul as your eyes roll shut
Don't worry, it will be over
Hold on though, you're alone, I am there with you
That much at least I can promise you
You know what's to come to not accept this
Don't lose your soul, you must fight for each breath
Don't go quietly

David Roch

Your sadness it is quite lovely
But it is the sadness of a slave
Why don't you give yourself a rest
Give yourself some room
You can't get your arms round everybody
You cannot carry the doom...
AA Bondy

There is a design, an alignment to cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Love; it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
Mumford & Sons

"Why can't you be happy
You make me feel helpless when you get this way"
I said "I'm up to my neck in alligators
Jaws gnashing at me
Each one trying to pull a piece away"
Darling, you can't slay these beasts of prey
Some bad dreams even love can't erase
But in France they say
Love puts on a new face
Love has many faces
Joni Mitchell

Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I let the day go by
I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I'm standing still

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on
The Weepies

All it takes is a little faith, and a lot of heart - The weepies

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