I must admit, I’m not much for the new wave of American branded social justice systems. I see it everywhere and it seems shallow, petty and all together unhelpful. Some examples:
- A famous movie actor is taking a break to give back. He cares deeply about global warming and wants to help raise awareness about it so he plans to fly all over the world to talk about it.
- Someone at work today (UPS) brought some styrofoam in for us to recycle. She was concerned that it would just be thrown away.
- Several (most of the ones I have seen) companies that argue for ‘fair trade’ products (coffee, clothing, etc…) produce memorabilia or other ‘add-on’ items that are not fair trade and instead made in a sweat shop (examples: coffee mugs to drink your fair trade coffee, t-shirts to show off your fair trade goods or hats trumpeting a cool brand apparel).
Here’s my issue with them:
- Wait. He’s concerned about global warming so much that he wants to fly around the world in a jet to talk about it? How does that reduce the level of harmful pollutants in the world?
- You care that we recycle your styrofoam container so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. But you bragged about how good the meat was that was contained in styrofoam that you had to have shipped from another part of the country or another country all together?
- You want to claim justice and equality for all while giving into the demands of a bottom line and for the sake of a better profit?
The big issue: they come across as a gimmick. We have been told to buy into whatever the latest fad is and support it. Wear it on our feet, our hearts, our wrists or our heads. Stand up! Say it loud! Speak out! This is wrong! ‘Justice’ has been demeaned to a cheap slogan, a party favor, a fashion statement. I even saw a tweet recently that said, “Real activists can be seen by the number of support bands they wear.” I only wear two. One for a clean water project company I support and one to remember a friend who lost a tragic battle with cancer. Guess I’m not a real activist.
It’s sort of like saying: “In order to avoid consumerism, I’m going to buy my own private island.”
Look at an issue like recycling. First, the hippies did it. Now, everyone does. It’s been branded as a way to ‘care for the earth’ but it totally avoids the fact that we are still over-materialistic and are hurting the planet at a far greater rate than we are helping it.
I am much more interested in God branded justice.
Where communities are radically transformed by love, inclusion, grace and acceptance.
Where people’s ills are relieved because our love of God demands that we stand up for the poor, marginalized and voiceless.
Where wrongs are made right. Not arbitrarily but in a spirit and desire of reconciliation.
Where forgiveness and love triumph grudges, revenge and ‘getting even.’
Where those with too much share what they have willingly to make sure others have enough.
Where followers of Jesus weep with those who weep, laugh with those who laugh and bring hope to the hopeless.
Where greed and consumerism are replaced with simplicity and generosity.
I don’t need to fly around the world to solve global warming. I also don’t need to recycle. I need to consume less, love more, live simpler and help heal the broken. That is really the only thing that can help.
And only something we can do with Jesus.
*Note: I do recycle, so please don’t get angry.