Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Skin in the Game

"'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 5:10)... With this beatitude Jesus thoroughly rejects the false timidity of those Christians who evade any kind of suffering for a just, good, and true cause because they supposedly could have a clear conscience only if they were to suffer for the explicit confession of faith in Christ.  Jesus cares for those who suffer for a just cause even if it is not exactly for the confession of his name."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

Yesterday, I wrote about how change at the micro-level (meaning, starting with me/us) is a vital component to bringing about macro-level change.  Then I read the above reading from my daily Bonhoeffer.  For modern day purposes, I am not sure I agree with the notion of being persecuted.  Persecution connotes harassment and oppression.  Certainly these can be a part of the consequence of standing up for a just cause, such as with the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960's where people risked their lives in the name of equality, and suffered great harm, while responding with remarkable non-violence.  To me, this is a far-cry from what we often see today with protests so highly orchestrated that there is no risk or sacrifice, or calls for boycott that ask for nothing of the consumer. An exception might be preachers in Indiana who perform same-gender marriage if the state constitutionally bans gay marriage, as these preachers would face possible imprisonment.  
For me, however, the call is not to seek to be persecuted, but to put skin in the game - to make sacrifices, take risks, to be the change.  This means more than championing an issue, but to build relationships across divides. This means being willing to be vulnerable, to be uncertain, to act with doubt.  This means making the sacrifice while practicing kindness.  
I fail at doing this miserably and daily.  It is the humility of this that keeps me from feeling that I have the right to tell others what to do.  Instead, I hope to walk the journey with people.  I certainly don't want to seek out persecution as a validation of my sacrifice, but I am willing to be made uncomfortable, and to try and do things differently.  If we want the world to be a kinder, more compassionate and caring society where people are not so ego-driven, we have to start with ourselves.  For me, this starts with the willingness to make sacrifices, to be uncomfortable, to practice kindness, to do with less, and every day to try a little bit more.  It certainly doesn't end there, and just doing this is not enough, but the change won't happen without it.  

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