Thursday, June 7, 2007

When is Enough ENOUGH?

I was so excited to finally be able to go and see the movie, AMAZING GRACE. I love historical films, especially when the topic really gets you thinking. It must be my teacher gifting coming out. I am a highly visual learner and God does speak to me through movies. I “see” a lot of spiritual symbolism as well as practical “lessons to be learned” in the stories. They did a good job on the movie - costuming and settings were great. Visit the Amazing Grace web site for more about this amazing story. I can’t wait for the DVD to watch all the extra features!! :o)

What is normal? It is amazing to watch how some people have so much accepted something as “normal” and ok that they don’t even see that there’s anything wrong. The process is so gradual because it is accepted at each point along the way where a red flag went up, but was dismissed and accepted – making the necessary adjustments to accommodate it. The abnormal becomes normal.

Slavery didn’t come suddenly. Working as a servant to another is not wrong. Dominating that person to the point of forcing them to do something against their will, stripping them of their freedoms, and dehumanizing them is surely wrong.

How did it go from servant to slave? When you consider yourself higher or better than another. When it is “beneath you” to do such a task! – Have someone else do it!! (Social class distinctions) That is different than not being able to do it and hiring someone who can. When evaluating one race better or superior to another. (WOW – that one is sure still around!) Although there can be noticeable strengths or weaknesses characteristic to certain people groups – remember, God created ALL of us. One does not have more worth than another. To Him ALL are valuable.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. The trouble with servants is that you have to pay them! Workers want (and need!) to be paid – that’s why they are working. They accepted the job and agreed to a certain payment for their service.

But what if you can get the same thing for free? Isn’t it wonderful when something is given to you for free? It’s called “a gift”!! Usually the idea is from the other person. It’s not really a “gift” if you are demanding it from them for nothing. Volunteered means offered willingly as a sacrifice – not manipulated or forced (having no choice) – not intimidated or shamed into doing it for free. Please take note: Don’t expect Christian tradesmen to do everything for nothing. God’s gifts are free – people need to be paid. For example: hire the Christian plumber to give him work – not to try to get a discount rate – pay him fair wages for the work done. If anything, Christians should be more generous and want to bless their Christian business.

Once you start to fall into the trap of “cheating” the worker out of what they are due, and enjoying the extra $$ for yourself instead – watch out!! Greed is an ugly monster – ready to destroy and not even notice the pain of others. Your gain is their loss - the higher your gain, the greater their loss.

But it was far away – in that other country of Africa. They didn’t have to watch them being torn from their homes and families. They didn’t have to sail on the slave ships and see the horrible conditions. They didn’t have to experience the humiliation of slave auctions. They didn’t have to live in the same conditions. Slave quarters varied as did work conditions, but they were still treated as slaves.

It even became fashionable and a mark of prestige to own slaves. The economy so fully adjusted to free labor that when the abolitionists began to cry out for their freedom, it meant economic disaster “to let them go” free. Who would fill those positions? Who would pay for their work? Who would now hire the freed slaves so they could earn a living and support their families? Compensation had to be paid to slave owners for their “loss of property” because of new laws passed by the government. (Britain’s Abolition of Slavery Act allowed for £20 billion in compensation to be paid to British plantation owners who had to their free slaves.) All the slave trade workers were now out of work and looking for new occupations.

Such inconvenience to do what was right. There is a cost for walking in righteousness and putting things back in order to where they should be!! Remember the years of not having to pay? Accumulated debt now due all at once!.

How do you compensate the slaves? How do you compensate those who have been taken advantage of? Those who have been so abused and mistreated? How do they recover lost years and lost dignity? How do they now become part of the society that misused them and caused them so much pain? The cost is more than physical. Abuse is always costly and it always has far-reaching consequences.

Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual) begins by taking advantage of the vulnerable. Some scars are easy to see and identify. Others are hidden, often hidden on purpose. One person dominating another is NOT normal or acceptable behavior. “It ought not to be!” Some abuses are subtle, some are blatantly obvious. BOTH are unacceptable, no matter what the setting. Abuse should clearly be seen as wrong and every effort made to stop actively abusive situations. Be aware that it WILL cost something to do it – do it anyway. There comes a time to say, “Enough is enough.”

Whether it is popular to do so or not, do whatever is in your power to stop abuses wherever you see them. Not all of us will be called to a monumental task as William Wilberforce was, but we are all called to speak out against injustices. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners. THEN He is able to comfort all those who mourn, bestowing on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (taken from Isaiah 61:1-3)
Let’s overturn the abnormal and let God’s Ways be the normal.

Selah Y

1 comment:

Jen said...

Wow! Cheryl you have said so much here.
So much to consider...Mark and I got to see Amazing Grace as sobering.
Standing for rightousness...absolutely necessary.