Thursday, January 26, 2006

Justice vs. Charity

Bono's address as the innaugural winner of the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) prize pushed me over the edge, kicked me around the block, left me black and blue. How on earth can I say I'm a follower of Jesus Christ and not be about a life of gospel justice?! Read and weep.

Six and a half thousand Africans dying every single day from AIDS, a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can get in any pharmacy. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. Eleven million AIDS orphans in Africa, 20 million by the end of the decade. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. Today, every day, 9,000 more Africans will catch HIV because of stigmatization and lack of education. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. So what we're talking about here is human rights - the right to live like a human. The right to live period. What we're facing in Africa is an unprecedented threat to human dignity and equality.

The next thing I'd like to be clear about is what this problem is and what this problem isn't, because this is not all about charity. This is about justice. Really, this is not about charity. This is about justice. That's right. And that's too bad, because we're very good at charity. Americans, like Irish people, are good at it. Even the poorest neighborhoods give more than they can afford. We like to give, and we give a lot. Look at the response to the tsunami. It's inspiring.

But justice is a tougher standard than charity. You see, 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. Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that it would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. As you heard in the film, anywhere else, not here, not here, not in America, not in Europe. In fact a head of state that you're all familiar with admitted this to me, and it's really true. There is no chance this kind of hemorrhaging of human life would be accepted anywhere else other than Africa.

Link: Full Transcript


Sarah said...

I think this would be allowed to happen in many third world countries, not only African ones. Europe and North America are safe though -- I agree with that.
I always think of the verse where Jesus compares himself with the poor man who was naked and given clothes, hungry and thirsty and was given food and water. Can we see Jesus in 3rd world nations? God Bless you for having compassion. If you find a way we can help, let us know -- it seems to get complicated when you try to help in practical terms. Thanks, Josh.

Sarah said...
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Jonathan Dodson said...

His work continues to inspire and make a difference. Did you hear that he participated in teh release of "Red Product"? Perhaps red for emergency. He promoed a Amex card that designates 1% of all proceeds to bring relief to Africa through vaccinations, food and water.

Josh said...

Because the problem is so big, it's daunting to know where to begin. Our church is strategizing for ways that we as a congregation can make a difference. I like the credit card idea, but I'd love to see how we can be more generous towards gospel justice.