Justice Takes Sacrifice
The world is broken, we know for sure. If there was any question, 2020 has proven that – a worldwide pandemic, senseless killings of our black and brown friends, violence in the aftermath. For anyone in the trenches of social justice work, this uncomfortable truth is coming clearer: justice takes sacrifice.
Sacrifice is Not Cool or Hip
Social Justice may at some points seem like a cool or hip or trendy thing to do, but at its core it is messy work.
Justice comes with a price. I don’t really enjoy thinking about sacrifice, knowing that following my passion and conscience could cost me something. It is painful to have my privilege pointed out, and to learn ways I have been complicit in injustice for many years.
But as I learn and advocate for Fair Trade and justice of all kinds, I’m asking people to share power and re-balance systems that are unfair. If I ask people with power (economic, political, racial, or otherwise) to give up something, I’m definitely talking sacrifice. And I should be willing to do the same myself.
I don’t naturally want to give up power and rights that I have. If the system works for me, I think it’s a good system.
But once I start to listen to friends and colleagues outside of power circles, I realize the system works for ME. Not for everyone.
No White Saviors
Acknowledging my power and privilege has caused me to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with that.
If I am seeking fair trade and fair wages and fair treatment for all, I may need to sacrifice some of my unfair advantage to live that out.
In the same way, if I am seeking racial equality and standing in solidarity with my brown and black sisters and brothers, agreeing that Black Lives Matter, this leads me to look for ways to sacrifice my power.
I do not mean that I have all the answers or that oppressed people need me to rescue them. I’ve been working to dismantle the “white savior” mentality in myself. Many times, people simply need opportunity to claim their own power.
AND it is in my best interest and the world’s for me to work for equality.
We don’t fully experience the world as it is intended unless everyone has opportunity and is equally valued as a beloved human, created by God.
It Keeps Getting Deeper
Once I start learning about one facet of justice, others become clearer and more important as well, and the Spirit pokes at me more from different angles. I realize that interwoven parts of life are touched and I need to change more thoughts and habits.
I need to re-order my life around justice. I am working to listen and learn on this, but I think it includes seeking out people outside of power circles and entering into their realities, working to understand.
Balancing Sacrifice and Self
There is a second part I’m learning here too: sacrifice needs balance with self-care. As a fairly empathic person, it is easy for me to absorb the pain of others as my own, and that causes problems. This has burned me out in jobs and volunteer roles, and I’ve been working at better emotional boundaries for quite some time.
The truth is that not ALL the problems are mine to solve. What do I think I am, a savior? (See above.)
My part is to follow my own missions, and to do those well. Withdrawing for some personal rest will ultimately make me more effective in my missions, so I’m continually working on that balance.
A Little Dreaming
It’s good to dream and remember what we are working towards. I dream of a world where we value ourselves and others as beloved humans, created by a God who loves us deeply and wants to restore us to God, to ourselves, to nature, and to each other. I think that’s it. If we really believe these things, the rest of the solutions we need will arise.
Having set out that vision, I need to ask: how do we sacrifice to get there? I’m working on this. Let me know your ideas, and let’s work at it together.