Monday, March 12, 2012

Responding to Issues of Injustice

Last Tuesday/Wednesday I witnessed something amazing. I watched my Facebook newsfeed blow-up with people becoming aware of an injustice in our world and passing the word along. As a person who works with teenagers and young adults, and would like to consider themselves looking for ways to address injustice in our world, I found everything surrounding the Kony 2012 campaign very intriguing. I watched the video, read blogs and articles, posted thoughts and responded to questions from students and friends. I am not sure what will happen next with this…nor am I entirely sure what I think should happen next. But in my processing this event around the issue of Joseph Kony and the LRA, I have found myself reflecting on a number of things. This blog entry is me attempting to organize my thoughts. It is not my intent to directly address the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children. Rather, I am sharing where my brain has been over the past few days in hopes that through sorting out my own thinking that others may be encouraged to think about issues such as this in different ways than they did before. I am not someone with all the answers, just someone trying to sort some things out as he goes. ~ Josh

·         The power of social media is absolutely incredible!

The response to the Kony 2012 video re-enforces for me that there is a generation of people out there who care about injustice and are willing to get excited about a cause if they can only become aware of it and be given practical ways to engage in a solution.

I can be swayed by a well put together video with a cute kid in it. *sigh*

I appreciate simplicity and directness in how a cause is advocated for. This makes it easy for people to grab onto and for them to understand what they can do. However, I am realizing more and more just how complex our world is and that to reduce issues of injustice to simply being “black” or “white” is not fair, nor does it lead to actually addressing the issue. More often than not the issues that we are reacting to are symptoms of something deeper and more systemic.

For every good, or well-intentioned, idea there will be feedback and criticism. It is wise to listen and evaluate all voices in the conversation. Who knows, maybe these other voices can provide some missing perspective.

I need to get into the habit of researching the organizations that I give money to. This is not pointed at any one organization, it is just wise stewardship.

I think that for “awareness” to be more than simply an emotive response to new information we need to be willing to learn more on our own.  There is always more to the story. In addition, I think that for “awareness” to be genuine, that it needs to move us to some sort of action. Being an advocate cannot simply be passing along a video that is going viral and changing a profile picture. It should change us.

I think I often delude myself into thinking that writing a letter to my MP or donating funds makes me somehow an advocate for the weak and working to end injustice. While these are good things, these are often acts to appease my conscious so I can feel good about focusing again on myself. I am thinking that being “aware” is a way of life that probably begins with an examination of my own priorities and how things like my coffee purchases effect (and possibly oppress) others.

I feel uncomfortable with responses to injustice that remind me of colonialism (i.e. western domination, the west solving the world’s problems for them, etc.). We haven’t exactly had a great track record with this. Rather I am drawn in by organizations that seek to partner with indigenous peoples and empower them to implement solutions.

I like the idea of mobilizing the public to advocate to their government officials to stand against an injustice and be a champion for the weak. I am uncomfortable with mobilizing the public to demand something from their governments that may in the end look like military force.

I am encouraged when I hear stories of forgiveness and reconciliation amidst a situation that seems to not be conducive to such movements of grace.  

I  feel like however we (I am speaking specifically to Christians here) respond to issues of injustice that we need to be devoting ourselves to praying for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:10).  It is through prayer that we can discern how God would have us participate in his kingdom-mission against injustice and through prayer that we will see God do what seems impossible to us.  

Well, those are my thoughts for now…


  1. I'm wondering about Perspective in all these issues as well. Not related to Kony at all ( since I haven't watched the video)...but sitting here in South CRolina, watching TV last night, I saw an ad for the US Navy...the catch-phrase for recruitment was..."A force for Good around the World". Several Middle Eastern countries (as well as Vietnam) might question that perspective.

    All that to say it is difficult to ever wholeheartedly assign categories of 'good'and 'evil' to any particular position...Augustine was perhaps wiser in this understanding than most of our modern day 'theologians' - since we have left prophetic ministry to the media, they have in some regards become our prophets, without a Godward orientation. What I've found important in these types of issues is to remember (as you've wisely highlighted) that we are ALL culpable in issues of injustice...we have 'all sinned and fallen short' quote a real theologian. Appreciate your thoughts in this!

    1. Hey Chris, as always I appreciate your insight and point of view!

      On another note, it is strange that the time stamp on your comment is earlier than when I posted my blog. Have you perfected time travel?