Sunday, November 10, 2013

Compassion Doesn't Run Out

"... Justice is not a finite commodity, nor are kindness and love." 

- Matthew Scully

The above quote, in its original context, addresses Scully's belief that it is not an excuse for people to offer no concern toward the plight of abused animals when there is already so much human suffering in the world requiring our attention. He is suggesting that we can't plug our fingers in our ears when presented with a difficult subject, with the reasoning that our capacities for caring about problems in our world are already at maximum and that we will focus on those, and not issues that seem secondary. We can care about starving people and starving animals and not feel guilty for letting seemingly "smaller problems" occupy our thoughts. Right? Sounds good to me.

I have theories on activism like this. I believe that in the same way that each of us has different talents from each other, we are also gifted with different "big problems" that nag at us and prompt us to action. For some of us, it is a widespread issue -- women's rights, hunger, pollution, or another  subject that we are passionate about no matter where it arises. 

For others of us, we are concerned with a specific place or thing, which can comprise of many of issues such as the above. We may care for the struggle of a certain endangered animal, which can be a matter of lack of habitat, environmental problems, lack of food, etc. We may be concerned for a certain place -- maybe a neighborhood -- and want to do something about the violence and poverty for that area in particular.

My theory is that we should absolutely care about all of these things. We do not have the finances to support every cause that is out there, or the time to research deeply into every single one -- time and money are finite. But allowing ourselves to feel upset over something that is wrong and offer prayer and encouragement to those who are devoting their resources to that issue? That is totally doable and I can't think of an excuse out there why we are incapable of doing that. 

There's no reason why we can't make room in our hearts for a tiny bit of awareness for every injustice that we come across as we go about our lives.

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed."
- Psalm 82:3

Transitioning into what led me to begin thinking more about this issue...

Just by my casual reading of comments on news stories, our "Christian" nation does not offer much of a heart for the plight of Detroit. We should just blow it up and start over, says the mayor of another city that experienced a tragedy that makes this comment incredibly insensitive on all counts. We should call it De-toilet instead. Because Democrats were in charge so much of the past decades, we should not give a rip about what happens now because we don't believe in their principles. Everyone in Detroit is racist against white people so we should just stay out and let them see what happens. (Seen the new mayor yet?)

The same people will book trips to Chicago and New Orleans, which also have very high violent crime rates, which is one of the many reasons they proclaim that they will never set foot in Detroit. 

I may not have known better, either, if I hadn't ever come here myself, and been able to explore Detroit with people who do understand. There are burned out shells of houses, but there are also some incredibly expensive homes inhabited by wealthy people, too. There are very fine restaurants and entertainment venues. Thousands and thousands of people live there every day, making their way how they have to and how they want to. Plenty of people can leave -- they choose not to.

I propose that if every person in this country let themselves just think that maybe it isn't a trash heap unworthy of saving -- maybe it contains national treasures that epitomize what America is all about, and diversity that makes our country colorful and rich -- and that that would make a difference. Not just slamming what they don't understand very well. Every person can afford that. It just takes a few seconds. Think that there are faces and names to the people that live here and that they do matter. 

That's all that someone has to do! And it could change the country, our politics, our churches, and so much more, just to say out loud, "I will choose to think positive about Detroit."

It's not to ignore the very real and serious problems, such as violence, blight, poverty, drugs, corruption, and the like. Thinking positively in fact propels more people to do something about these problems and be a part of building up, not tearing down.

I challenge anyone who comes across this to become a supporter of Detroit, even if just in spirit.

I have a Pinterest board devoted to finding things that might help you see a side of Detroit that you might not have before!

Anthony Bourdain just posted about his season finale of Parts Unknown, in Detroit, and might explain a little bit of what I am thinking, too. (There are a few crude words, just FYI.)

I will not pretend to be an expert or that I have done so much work rebuilding Detroit myself, but I am not afraid to go ahead and say that people need to spend a little more of their compassion on that city, no matter where they live. 

Rockin' the 313 with you,

- Lara