Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Faith that Undergirds Social Justice Movements

This has been a week where it's hard to escape thinking about social change and social justice movements.  I've been enjoying hearing the snippets of King's "I have a dream" speech.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the social justice movements of our own day.  I watched part of a documentary about the Freedom Riders--interesting to see how reviled they were.

Who inspires that same kind of revulsion today?  Transgendered people come to mind.  We fear the people whom we don't understand.  We often feel threatened somehow, which inspires that fear and loathing--and often violence.

Too many of us forget the violence that comes when we fight for social justice.  I've had many friends who wonder why social justice movements so often fade away.  It's hard to keep working towards a goal that seems so elusive.

Why do some people persevere?

If I was a young sociology student, I'd study the social justice movements that are founded out of faith.  I suspect those movements have more staying power.  There's a deep taproot that keeps the faithful going in the face of violence and death.

As I've watched the footage in the Freedom Riders documentary and listened to the tapes of the March on Washington, I've marked the presence of the songs, those songs that are so rooted in faith.  I've listened to King, with his oratory patterns formed in the pulpit.

As a society, do we still have the faith infrastructure needed to incubate these kinds of movements?  Do we have the faith infrastructure to keep people going strong when lashed by opposition to justice?

I see an infrastructure that's perhaps a bit shakier than it once was, but still in place.  How can we strengthen it?

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