Studying injustice has been one of the great awakenings of my soul. The desire to help free the oppressed and rescue the abused; to bring reconciliation and love to those who have suffered - it's a desire that isn't momentary, but one that I feel will last. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm in no way saying that I'm happy that injustice exists so it can be one of my adventures or anything, but I am happy to learn that God deeply cares about the oppressed. Not just that, but even positions himself as the God of the oppressed. To know that I follow a God who is deeply moved and bothered by injustice, brings me hope that their freedom will come. It's in following this God that I find that desire. I don't know if it would be as strong as it is without my faith. They seem to work together, at least, for me.
I've been really surprised at the kind of resistance I've encountered lately though. Resistance that has told me that I'm wasting my time; the causes I stand for will never find their resolution. Not only that, but to hear the criticisms from some who blame me for abandoning the poor in America, saying that I should be focusing here and fix the problems here before I focus anywhere else. I haven't been sure how to respond to this kind of criticism. I am relieved that it's merely assumption. If they knew me, they'd know that while I've fed the homeless in Serbia, I've fed and clothed the homeless in Pittsburgh. While I've helped rebuild the broken parts of a home in Bosnia, I helped tear down walls and put new ones up in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I've witnessed injustices that would make a lot of people fall apart and ask, "why?" I know that these things are simple assumptions and can move past them quite easily. Hearing about how wrong my other stances are, and how they won't work out in the end though...those have been a bit harder.
Beautiful Serbian lady
Sometimes you are told something so often, that you start to wonder if they (the doubters) are right. Am I wasting my time on this cause? It's been years and years and yet resolution has still not come to this area or that, so why do I push on? Clearly nothing is going to happen. Clearly I am naive. Or am I? Am I naive to think that love can overcome? Am I ignorant to think that a conflict of 23 years can end, bringing peace to a region who's only known war since I've been born? Am I simply wasting my time?
I recently read an email by Dave Eggars (Author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius") who had a take on his own critics when his first book came out and became successful (thank you, Kenny for sending me that email). What it boiled down to was something I needed to read, something I needed to hear when this was happening to me. It was so simple too. Who cares what the critics say? Who cares what anyone says? I do something I enjoy. I find life in what I do. And even more so, what I fight for has meaning. If even one person can find freedom from the chains of injustice, is that one person not enough? Should I care about one person when millions suffer in similar, if not, worse conditions? Absolutely. To bring peace to even one person who has suffered, that is to do something amazing.
There is a tug on my heart to free those chained down. I've traveled half the world for the past 2 years and seen a lot of things. I've seen pain and destruction, terror and hatred, oppression and suffering. But in those things, I've seen something miraculous. I've seen love conquer fear, hope conquer oppression, joy conquer pain. I've seen the eyes of the homeless lady in Budapest, Hungary light up with hope and amazement, simply because someone noticed her and gave her flowers and a smile. I've seen life come through the destruction that still lingers after years of war. I've seen barriers broken through as beggars stopped begging and simply enjoyed time spent with one another, happy to be noticed not as a money drop, but as a person; as flesh and blood.
The critics can say what they will, it makes no difference to me. I hope they get to see the life that I've seen come through the pain we feel. I will continue to work towards reconciliation and peace. Desmond Tutu has said that, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." I don't think I can stop working towards justice. I know the moment I give in, the moment I stop even trying, I will die. I will walk among the living dead. To ignore injustice in this world is to let yourself die. I won't stop. I won't be silenced.
I will use love to overcome this dark world.