These last few weeks have seen me reflect upon matters close to social justice, liberation theology and what mission means in both praxis and a secular vocational sense as I look for a job that I will find meaningful and, as importantly, valuable to those I might serve. As I consider employers such as lay christian NGOs I look at their mission and values. With this comes the (inevitable?) comparison to the Beatitudes. So here they are;
Matthew 5:1-12 The Beatitudes
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This then brings me to consider the manner in which the Church acts and reacts to injustice. By way of example Father Chris Bedding, Anglican Rector, is active in peacefully protesting Australia’s treatment of detained asylum-seekers. He and others have been arrested in more than one instance, occasioning both exposure to a (hopefully) widening audience and awareness of the government’s appalling treatment of fellow human beings in the name of the law. Another member of the clergy, the Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, has offered community-based care for unaccompanied children on behalf of the Uniting Church in a compassionate and commendable gesture of goodwill and humanity. A different method from Chris and co., but as meaningful in a debate that continues to reveal the inhumane act of government on behalf of every Australian. There are other groups, other individuals and other protests of many kinds, too. My hope is that the shouting voices will quickly raise to be the cacophony that the government obviously needs it to be so that this disgusting and morally reprehensible behaviour will end.
What becomes obvious in this issue is that humankind continues to act abominably towards each other not only in the street, but even worse, at the level of power that has the ability to make the right decision on behalf of entire nations. But what is the right decision?…
It is the one that requires more than simply keeping the law.
In challenging individuals, NGOs, institutions, companies and governments to raise their bars I also ask them to stop relying on goats. These politicians to whom we have trusted OUR POWER need to exercise their mutual responsibility to humanity. And WE need to call them to heel. These institutions to which WE have entrusted OUR POWER to administer justice need to act in a just manner.
I lament the fact that those who have the power to lead the way choose to perpetuate abuses, or omission. I lament the fact that the Australian public allow the Australian government to perpetuate detention that is equivalent to the labour camps of Nazi Germany in psychological trauma and being addressed not by name, but by issued number. If you do not believe me then read eyewitness accounts, watch the interviews and smuggled vision. And if you believe that what asylum-seekers have done in attempting to flee murder, persecution, horrors and atrocities justify the consequences of being held in Australian-run places of murder, persecution, horrors and atrocities of then consider one more thing. The abuses in Australian detention centres IN YOUR NAME are also perpetrated on young unaccompanied children. If you were the carer of a child who was abused in the manner that the Australian government abuses detained children then you would be in court and the child would be in care. Pronto.
I, and YOU, are better than that, even if the Liberal and Labor parties are not.