note: originally posted in January 2005 in the student newspaper at Wheaton College…
It’s Friday now, five days after the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, and like many of us, besides rejoicing that it’s only a four day week, you have not given his legacy a second thought. If upon reflecting on King and his legacy, you only naively rejoiced that his “dream” has been accomplished, but did not weep at the complacency of, We, the Church in carrying out the work that Dr. King, in Christ, called us to; to bring Justice for the poor and oppressed, you are deceived.
The more I have learned about Dr. King the more I am shocked and disappointed at the lack of attention we give to this great hero of the Christian faith. Wheaton College, a school founded by abolitionists should know well the importance of standing up against injustice and for freedom. Dr. King stood bold as a Christian against the injustice of his day and we need to be challenged by this modern prophet of Christ to do the same.
It’s a wonderful thing to see that every year hundreds of students at Wheaton participate in ministries through CSC and their churches. Many of the ministries involve working with youth anywhere from near by Carol Stream to the city of Chicago. These sorts of ministries are tangible ways many students find to share the love of Christ with others. But this alone is inefficient and insufficient. We must not forget King’s example and stand against the systems that are persisting
You might have heard this story before. There was a community that built a school on the edge of a cliff. Upon discovering that a number of students where injured seriously from falling off the cliff, the community decided to build a emergency room at the bottom of the cliff. Though this did help care for the situation, it was reactive toward the outcome of the problem and did not deal with the root. Why did they not build a fence?!
Dr. King stood against the injustice of the Jim Crow laws and the segregated education system because he was compelled by the love of Christ. We too must stand against those structural sins in our society. I challenge every student involved in ministries to youth to become aware of the structural evils that we are a part of in our society. When a child receives an unequal education simply due to their location in an impoverished neighborhood, this is a structural evil. When your attempt to explain to that child the victories of Brown vs. Board in desegregation are in vain because every child in his classroom is of similar complexion, this is a structural evil. King once said, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Please deepen your understanding and act.
We are called to love our neighbor as ourself. This command requires far more then the few hours or minutes we tend to give it each day, indeed, in the words of King, “The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”
I’m still a little unsettled about our sort of naive celebration of “independence” day in this country. We are holding people prisoners unjustly.
Well, fortunately someone out there has the skill to speak the people’s language, through a film. It’s based on true life accounts of these three men. My only fair is that people will treat it like any other movie and do nothing.
I’ve mentioned demeaning t-shirts in the past, but I figured it was worth another mention. Shirts like the one here are becoming more and more prevalent, at least it seems that way from the number of online stores selling them and ads on sites. Fortunately I haven’t seen many people wearing the sort of demeaning and derogatory shirts I’ve seen mentioned in blogs online.
The terribly sad thing is these shirts target teenagers, youngins right at that age where they are developing their perceptions of themselves and all that. Here we are allowing them to be shaped and reinforced by t-shirts that embrace sad stereotypes and oppressive roles we’ve worked so hard to overcome. We are putting shackles on our own feet now.
I had the wonderful opportunity this morning of interviewing Eric Odier-Fink of The Justice Clothing Company. Eric graciously gave me a bit of his time to answer some questions about Justice Clothing, Sweatshops, Unions and Fair Trade.
Another interesting point that came up in the movie Rize is the idea that in the inner city the one thing you can always seem to find is a sports team. Maybe is one of those catch-22 types of things, but the truth is that a lot of do-gooders come into an inner city neighborhood and start sports teams. This makes some sense because there are a lot of kids that want to play sports, and thus we have our little catch-22 (I could be using the term all wrong, sorry).
But there are plenty of youth in the inner city that have no desire to play sports and would love to have other outlets. In the movie they mention the lack of performing arts schools and studios which is very true from what I know. There is a definite need for more of these things in the inner city.
If you have tons of sports options available to youth, you’ll continue to hear plenty of “rise out of poverty to sports star fame” types of stories. If you make performing arts more available, and good education available, you’ll eventually hear many more, “rise out of poverty to” broadway renown, ballet all-star, symphony elite, science genius, and the list goes on.
As a gift over the holidays, Mindy and I received the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It had been recommended to me before and I had browsed the first chapter but hadn’t picked it up.
I’m currently a good chunk of the way through it and it brought up an interesting financial issue that I have. In the book Robert Kiyosaki will give examples of was that he made money. The two primary ways have been small stocks and Real Estate. I’ve read my fair share of money making and finance books and a lot of them, as well as plenty of people say there is money to be made in Real Estate.
You look at the ideas, me being somewhat of an entrepuneur, and your mind start whirling through all the possiblities and the idea of being able to make a ton of money quite quickly through buying and selling real estate (I know some of you are surprised by me talking like this). When I think only about the financial side of the real estate business, it’s quite tempting to try and jump in. And that’s when I step back and think about some of the social implications.
I’ll start with a typical example. Pick up your average ‘Make millions in Real Estate’ book and one of it’s tips will be to go to the bankruptcy office, or look for foreclosure notices, those are places to get houses for dirt cheap. Never have I seen in ANY book or tape or information anything that addresses the needs or situation of the person that is bankrupt or foreclosing. If anything it might mention that they’ll be glad to have the money, but I highly doubt they are glad to lose their house. “Your misfortune is my fortune,” that’s basically what it is, and that just doesn’t sound right to me.
The other major problem with real estate that I see is the power it has to push people around, particularly poor people. Gentrification is somewhat of a buzzword, but it’s happening and it’s frustrating and sad. Pick any major city and what’s happening is people with low incomes, but people who had a stable home, are being pushed out of their residence and left to move somewhere else. Now that the city has become popular again, those with money are forcing (I’ll explain in another post) out those without money. This includes housing projects (Cabrini Green of Chicago is now condos). This troubles me.
I like the idea of buying a house some day. I like the idea of living in community with people in a place that we own. I worry that my purchasing and profiting will be at the expense of others. There is oppression in the way we do real estate and I want to have no part of it. I only hope I can find out a way that is possible.