Jesus once said, in reference to Deuteronomy, “The poor will always be with you.” A friend of mine is fond of saying it’s because we don’t do anything about it. I’ve become a firm believer in the idea that at some point, if you’re willing, God will break your heart over some form of injustice in the world, and then use that to break your heart over every other form of injustice as well.
The more I talk to folks on the front lines of fighting human trafficking the more I begin to recognize that we can’t do anything to prevent and end trafficking if we don’t also do something about poverty, homeless youth, child abuse, domestic violence, pornography addiction, and a litany of other social ills that I’d at one point partitioned off from trafficking. Now, however, I can’t keep the boxes in separate rooms; there needs to be an evolution of conversation and collaboration between people who find that their primary passion lies in addressing one (or more) of these issues.
Which means we need to be dedicated to the long game.
Because truth be told there’s no magic bullet to ending poverty, or abuse, or homelessness. There are plenty of tangible things we can do to address these issues (more than we can cover in one blog post, though you can certainly find some ideas here) but all of these things take time and energy. And that’s overwhelming. Burnout comes from having too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Similarly, compassion fatigue comes from having too many people to care about and not enough energy to love them all. These are two of the biggest challenges in staying with social justice for the long haul. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet to dealing with these things either. And they aren’t avoidable.
If you care about fixing social problems you’re going to run into the fact that you can’t fix everything.
If you care about people you’re going to realize that you can’t love everyone all the time (because loving is hard — really).
What we need, then, is a community of grace-filled people to journey with. We need folks around us who will love us when we don’t have any love to give in return. We need folks who will sit with us in silence, their presence being the only comfort they can offer, when the questions we have (why is the world like this? why do people do this to each other? why can’t we all just GET ALONG?!?!) don’t have any real answers. We need folks around us who remind us that there is so much beauty in the world, and it’s our job to draw that beauty out in others, and point to it when we see it so people notice and find encouragement in it. Without a community like that we’re left with two options: we die or become machines. The dead and the machines both need to be reminded that there’s blood pumping through their hearts and veins, and it’s okay to be a broken(but mending), discouraged (but hoping), tired (with rest right around the corner) organisms. If you’re in a community that supports and loves you, do me a favor and invite others in. If you’re not in a community that loves and supports you, do me a favor and find one (they’re out there, and not as scary as they might seem). If we can do this, if we can learn to love each other well, then maybe, just maybe, we can see this game to the end.
Luke Hassevoort – MAP Board of Directors