February 03, 2006

Bono Preaching It

From Sojourners' transcript from the National Prayer Breakfast:

... God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

... But here's the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There is much more to do. There's a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.

And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice.

Let me repeat that: It's not about charity, it's about justice.

And that's too bad.

Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.

Sixty-five hundred Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn't accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature." In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe.

... This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after itů. I have a family, please look after themů. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. ...

Just thought that deserved a little extra pixel space. I don't often have a lot of time for religion, but faith, justice and mercy, they can hang around. Hopefully, they will make themselves at home. In my life, in your life, in our 'serious' and 'practical' political calculations, let there be a place held open for the unreasonably good impulse that can shine through and transform ordinary people into beacons of hope.

The times we're in make it hard. Fear and doubt make it hard. But they also make it ever more worth it. Every one of us has the capacity to extend grace to someone else such that they are pulled from despair into hope, such that, in whatever sense you understand it, their soul is saved from darkness. It's been done for me, even though I may have been undeserving. And I guess that's why it's called grace.

Yet also, it's justice. It's fair and right because each of us who isn't in need got that way because of an often unearned grace. We were born to a certain family, in a certain country, with certain talents or a particular skin color. We have had, whether we acknowledge it or not, good turns done for us and certain types of harm kept from our door that are a daily worry elsewhere. Justice is the extension of that grace we have been given to others by a deliberate act of will. It means spreading the love, as it were, around.

Justice and mercy are a way to give thanks for what we have that really means something, no matter who we are. It could save us all, if only we would let it.

Posted by natasha at February 3, 2006 01:33 PM | Human Rights | Technorati links |

I've got a link to the video (and video excerpts) at my place. It's really quite something to watch, especially knowing that Bush is sitting just off camera.

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