• Reverend CP

"Let's Roll!"


“I think we're all passengers in a billionaire hijacking. We were all drugged on the plane, and these guys are now terrified in the cockpit because they're realizing that in the back there we just woke up.” - Anand Giridharadas, author. professor, and analyst


Economic news these days often includes stories about the philanthropy of the rich, and of “social action” efforts of large corporations on behalf of those in need. And it SEEMS as if their hearts are in the right place – spending millions and in some cases billions of dollars in order to make a change. But the truth, according to Giridharadas, is that these efforts are a smokescreen, designed to eliminate impetus for REAL change. The World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, he refers to as “A gathering of people who use the idea of making a difference as a kind of lubricant in the engine of making a killing, of people who promote generosity as a cheap substitute for justice.”


That idea that many of the “positive contributions”, of much of the “social action” that we read about merely being a ploy to stave off attempts to drive systemic change is spot on. I see its unconscious application in the attitudes of some religious institutions, who are willing to promote “social action” because it seems like a safe alternative to promoting social justice. Far better (in their minds) to merely provide some temporary relief to the symptoms of injustice (like blankets and soup) than to risk upsetting anyone (and losing them as a member/contributor) by becoming involved in the demand for justice – for real change – that addresses the CAUSES of the suffering, not the SYMPTOMS.


This same sort of cowardly consciousness is sometimes reinforced by the cult of toxic positivity, preferring to “spiritually bypass” any sort of meaningful dialogue by simply declaring “peace now” because “we need to be unified”. Sounds great, but when not everyone is included in our circle because they’ve been incarcerated, along with their children, in detention centers, or targeted by employers, family members, or society for being gay or transgender, or subject to violence because they are women, it not only fails to work, but lets us paint over difficult realities with a sheen of spiritual denial. Neville Chamberlain thought he had “peace in our time” all wrapped up; anyone remember how well that worked out?


Any time we begin to change a system – any kind of a system – whether it is a church, a neighborhood, a family system, or a nation’s economy, those at the top, those profiting from the status quo, those whose positions of power and privilege are being threatened will do everything they can to protect their wealth, their status, and their power. Including pretending to care about the problem. And aided and abetted by the lazy, the comfortable, and the confrontation-averse, they succeed in preventing the sort of systemic change that provides reparative relief and promotes long-term justice for the low price of lip service and crumbs from their groaning tables.


My friends, we have systemic problems. We have racial problems. We have gender-based problems. We have problems related to the LGBTQ community. We have gun violence problems. We have education problems. We have homelessness problems, underemployment problems, and wage problems. We have healthcare problems. We have environmental problems. Our veterans have problems. Our refugees and immigrants have problems. And I could go on. Now, I’m not going to tell you not to help a homeless shelter, or a battered women’s shelter, or a school in your neighborhood. But please don’t just put a Band-Aid on an arterial wound and walk away thinking you’ve saved the patient. When (not if) you find a cause about which you are authentically passionate (and it’s OK not to be involved in all the worthy causes, because there are too many of them and only one of each of us), GET INVOLVED IN THE ISSUE AT THE LEVEL THAT PROMOTES SYSTEMIC CHANGE. You may have to call your first politician – over and over again. You may go to your first protest. You may have to start taking a boycott sheet with you to the grocery store. You may decide to run for office.


My friends, it’s time we stop drugging ourselves with mass media and actual soporifics, and seize control of this country back from the hijackers. It is time we demand, procure, enforce, and protect justice for all.

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