Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Speak Out and Speak Now!

I was reading in Proverbs, and I ran across a verse that started a domino effect of thoughts and ideas that became this blog. This is the verse:

"Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy." ~Proverbs 31:8-9

When I first read this passage, it really struck a chord. In my bible, this is under the heading "The Sayings of King Lemuel," so naturally it would seem Lemuel is giving advice to future kings. But, should we not also, as citizens in the 21st century, speak up for those who are not heard or acknowledged, and make their cause known when governments, wicked leaders, society, and others in general try to keep them in silence? Sometimes they are silenced intentionally, but other times, people are just so unaware of the poverty and need in the world. I couldn't even begin to name them all...AIDS, famine, natural disasters, poor treatment of women... Although these thoughts came to mind, I also began thinking about issues in the U.S. around where I live that this verse could apply to. How could I speak up for others? As a writer, one could expose the injustice around the world, which is noble and an exciting prospect. But also, what about the poor man on the street, or children with handicaps? There are many categories of people in our society that are overlooked or just can physically not plead their cause. Abortion is also a major issue, perhaps THE major issue. Clearly, that would be speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. As I continued to think on this a quote bounced around in my head, which I retreaved with the help of Google:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."
~Martin Niemöller

All I remembered of this quote, was the haunting last line, that "they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me." According to the source I found, Niemoller was a German Protestant pastor who spoke out against Adolph Hitler and his evils, and ended up in a concentration camp for seven years. He believed that the German people as a whole, and their Protestant leaders, had remained far too silent as hundreds of people were slaughtered, and he was right. It made me think. Who could (or should) I be speaking out for? It is frighteningly true, that if we, as humans, simply rely on our survival instincts of self-protection, we may remain "safe" for awhile, but in the end have no advocate. So I'm challenging you and myself, to speak out and speak out now, before it's too late for them, or for us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

HOME! Random thoughts, and please, no "Happy Holidays"

YES! I'm finally home for Christmas break, a good month to sit around and read books of my OWN choice, write 'til my pens run out of ink, be unproductive for days straight, and dabble in my artsy hobbies. Hallelujah! Unfortunately, my creative energy feels sapped after half a dozen tests and multiple papers in a week, so I will have to get back to this blog when I actually have an enlightening thought to share. The only thing that's been on my mind lately, is that I want to find ways to reach out to others around me: my neighbors, those in need, strangers. This life is about relationships, and when we face the end, that's all that counts. God summed it up: Love God and love others. Love. Live it out. So, I'm thinking about ways I can brighten someone's day this holiday season, and I'm going to make every effort to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of those people determined to say Happy Holidays. No, Merry Christmas. Be thankful that Christ came as a child for you. Indeed, that's a merry and joyous thing, and I will not wish you Happy Holidays in light of the all-surpassing birthday of Christ.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Deception of Division

In class the other day, we were discussing important leaders like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois and their approaches to racial equality. I'd like to say that any form of racism is over, and it may appear so, but it's far from true. Racism isn't just an American issue; it occurs around the world. In the U.S., it seems less active, and what may appear as segregation may be simply separation based on preference and commonalities. This is just one division: the amount of melatonin in your skin placing you in one group or another. What about division based on gender, intelligence, income, or hereditry? All an illusion... "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:26-29)

I began to think farther, about this concept of a divide among us. It happens between groups, sub-groups, etc... But also on an individual, more devastating level. It begins like this: "I must be different, no one feels this way; She has everything together; I must be weak if I struggle with this; People will not accept me if they know the real me." These are dangerous, devisive lies from no where else but the Father of Lies. In the same way that we isolate ourselves from "other" groups, we isolate ourselves from other individuals, living in fear instead of faith. We live behind invisible walls to protect ourselves, preserve our identity, and remain "happy." But, guess what, God created us for relationships! At the core, we are all broken, hurting souls placed within an outer-shell of a body. If Satan can convince of we are weird, strange, un-Christian to think such thoughts, hypocritical, he will prevent our growth and freedom in choosing emotional intimacy. I would have to say, that not until college did I discover that all my struggles, were common struggles. I was not so different. The girls on my hall dreamed the same dreams, felt the same pains, and also experienced the same emotions.

I cannot say how freeing it is to sit down with a sister in Christ and feel acceptance and a lightening of the soul in sharing my heart. To have someone say, yes, I've been there too, or yes, I struggle with that, is liberating. So next time you try to isolate yourself in your own little group or in your own little self (whichever it may be), remember the unity in Christ and commonality in mankind, and risk relationships and friendships, even accountability, with another soul made in God's image.