Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saying, Doing, Caring (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Everyone)

"Women!?! In the clergy!?! HA!!"
Shock and awe in rural Wyoming
Many social justice topics are taboo in rural Wyoming. Nearly every person is conservative to the point of hilarious stereotype. This seems to create an atmosphere of purely political rhetoric, and most areas of social justice don't happen to fit into these favored political institutions. If one happens to reside in Wyoming, one might hear these three talking points quite regularly...

1. Kill the wolves.
2. The "Obama-care" bill does nothing but pillage our women and rape our churches.
3. Kill the Democrats (Notice the similarities between items #1 and #3).

I am a Christ-follower (if the reader does not know this, please consider actually READING my posts and putting less concentration into viewing the pictures of rainbow unicorns, anthropomorphic organs, and hellish canines). Not only that, but I am a Christ-follower in a heavily Protestant ranching community. And after 18 years of that, voila! I'm a... radical, socially liberal, antiracist, Christ-loving, LGBTQ supportive neo-hippie (Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "Huh?"). Somehow, when one leaves the oppressive conservatism of rural Wyoming, one actually learns about the world he/she is a part of.

Sadly, it is easier to speak than to do. Look back up to the aforementioned list of beliefs in the prior paragraph... How many of those do you think I actually act on nearly as often as I should? My own courage fails me quite often because my sense of being "aware" of an issue often satisfies my ego, and therefore I think I am doing my part to better humankind.

It is one thing to complain and be aware of these issues. But I envy those who possess the courage to act according to their beliefs. In the New Testament, the epistle of James tells us that "faith without action is dead. (James 2:26b)" If I claim to adhere to a standard such as that, consider me a lying deadbeat and a hypocrite of the highest caliber.

Those who act, however, should not be considered influential just because they act. It is those that have been endowed with humble and beautiful souls that move via genuine care and empathy that we should venture to echo. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:3)" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did more than act. He acted on behalf of others beyond himself, even to the very point of death. Mohandas Gandhi gave his life so that others could be free from oppression and Empire. And, most importantly, Jesus Christ suffered the most intense torture ever known to show all of humanity how to live a most fulfilling life by loving God and in caring for others above one's self.

One's possession of insight or wit are not the qualifiers as to what we should strive to emulate. It is their actions, their love, their willingness to serve that speaks of a higher character. Live beyond the example that I set, and do everything for others. Follow Christ's example, and, as Paul says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but, in humility, consider others better than yourselves. (Phil. 2:3)"

You don't have to be conservative, and you don't have to be liberal. You don't have to "have it all figured out" and you don't have to live in an impoverished nation. You don't have to be Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah's Witness, a Latter-Day Saint, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or of any other faith. I urge each of you to stop talking and start doing. And don't just do for the sake of doing, but develop a heart for others. It is when we lose this sense of selfish importance that we truly live lives of meaning.

Still saying... Otherwise you wouldn't be reading,

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