Thursday, August 03, 2006

The theology of giving a damn

UPI Column

Prompted by the blog I linked to in yesterday's column (Criticizing Bono), I wrote about the limitations of my worldview even as I encountered other cultures.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful column, Julie. I want to get past feeling both overwhelmed by how much needs doing and being numbed by too much information. I'm learning it has to be personal. Helping others has to start with looking someone in the eye and seeing an equal in the sight of God.

Thanks for the inspiration.

SusansPlace said...

A friend sent me this "Aboirginal" poem today. It made me think of your UPI article.

"White fellow, you are the unhappy race.

You alone have left nature and made civilized laws.

You have enslaved yourselves as you enslaved the horse and other wild things.

Why, white man?

Your police lock up your tribe in houses with bars,

We see poor women scrubbing floors of richer women.

Why, white man, why?

You laugh at “poor blackfellow,” you say that we must be like you.

You say that we must leave the old freedom and leisure,

We must be civilized and work for you.

Why, white fellow?

Leave us alone, we don’t’ want your collars and ties,

We don’t’ need your routines and compulsions.

We want the old freedom and joy that all things have but you.

Poor white man of the unhappy race."


julieunplugged said...

I love that poem Susan! Thank you so much for posting it.

Kansas Bob said...

We Americans are arrogant people ... and I fear that we Christian Americans are most arrogant.

I like what your friend said about Bono - albeit that most non-conservatives ... everyone knows that conservatives already don't care about Africa :) ... would find her comments to be troubling because they believe that Americans have answers for the rest of the world.

My take about giving a damn is not sending money oversees ... it is not pontificating (in a Bono sense) ... it is loving and caring for the people around you ... the people you see every day ... it is found in the small and insignificant ... it is giving the proverbial cup of water in Jesus' name. Maybe a bit too simplistic ... but I am somewhat of a simpleton :)

julieunplugged said...

We have the capacity to reach out to those around us which is what makes that a compelling argument for learning to care.

Otoh, we are the beneficiaries of all kinds of nasty policies and deals made by our government and the first western world specifically which makes us in a uniquely responsible position. I'm taking a course in the fall called Contemporary Issues of Justice and hope that I gain some light into what it means to live in America and care about the world.

Dave said...

I like that anecdote about Jon learning to say Hello in numerous languages and memorizing the world capitals. A very interesting glimpse into his character, especially as a young adult!

It's good that we all keep in mind the limitations of our worldview - it helps us to avoid getting too grandiose in our thinking as long as we also recognize that it's OK to have these limitations and live within them.

Bono's "everyday life" has enlarged his sphere of influence to the global scale, so it makes sense for him to get involved at the level he is trying to address. There are risks of him becoming too benevolent a la the old "white man's burden" mindset, or a pomo rocker's variant on "noblesse oblige."

Americans live in a myth that our way of life is the best that's ever been achieved and that the rest of the world aspires to what we've got. It's not entirely inaccurate, but like all propaganda, it exaggerates, distorts and flatters the listener in order to become more effective. Part of the motivation behind that story is to keep us invested so that when the time comes to make sacrifices (large or small) we will think they are worthwhile.

This column helps rouse me out of the slumber that perpetually threatens to overtake me!

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